breckenridge bourbonAuthor Mack McConnell is a Paris-based contributing writer for Cocktail Enthusiast. He also runs a Whiskey of the Month Club.

Located in the Rocky Mountains at a steep 9,600 feet, Breckenridge Distillery is the highest distillery in the world. They’re responsible for a handful of quality products — including Breckenridge Bourbon — and along with nearby distillers Stranahan’s and Leopold Bros., Colorado is an official hot spot for bourbon production.

If you follow the awards circuit, you may be interested to know that Breckenridge Bourbon racked up some big honors, including a Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and a Double Gold at the Denver International Spirits Competition in 2012. The spirit also scored an impressive 96 (one point higher than Pappy Van Winkle’s coveted 23 Year Old Bourbon) at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in NYC.

So that’s nice.

One thing that makes Breckenridge such an interesting bourbon is its grain bill — 56% yellow corn, 38% green rye and 6% unmalted barley. That high rye content is particularly noteworthy, as it’s well above the industry standard for bourbons. The result is a whiskey with great spice character.

In addition to the grain bill, Breckenridge attributes much of its quality to its water source. Because after aging their 120 proof spirit in American white oak casks for three years, the bourbon is diluted down to 86 proof using pure Rocky Mountain snow melt from nearby Mount Quandry. “In Breckenridge, we have fresh snow melt water that’s full of minerals and has its own flavor,” says Bryan Nolt, Breckenridge Distillery’s founder and CEO. “The pH is perfect and the minerals add taste to our spirits just as salt adds flavor to foods.”

That said, let’s give it a taste.

Breckenridge Bourbon Tasting Notes

Color: Maple syrup

Nose: Sweet and mellow corn is prominent in the nose. It’s carried along with some rye, banana, honey and a little smoky char.

Taste: Again, strong corn. Plus honey, light brown sugar, graham crackers and a bit of sesame mingling with spicy rye and cinnamon.

Body: Medium-bodied.

Finish: Short to medium finish. The rye flavor melds pleasantly with corn and cinnamon notes.

If you happen to find yourself in Breckenridge, swing by the distillery for a tour and a taste. In addition to bourbon, Breckenridge Distillery also produces vodka, spiced rum and aperitif bitters.

– 43% ABV
– $40

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