Wood Cask Aging
Broken Barrel Whiskey is betting that more is more. Specifically, if one oak is good when it comes to aging bourbon, then three must be even better. And if the company’s newest ongoing release is any indication, they may just be onto something.
Founded in 2017, the LA-based operation distinguishes itself by pursuing a non-traditional finishing approach that permeates flavor into Kentucky straight bourbons and ryes from several different kinds of wood all at once. Here’s how the process works — after the whiskey ages in intact barrels for at least two years, it’s dumped into a large tank to which broken staves from multiple other casks are added for finishing. Therefore, The resulting bottles boast a mash bill and a unique “oak bill.”
“Six years ago, I sourced my first barrels of bourbon from Owensboro (Kentucky) and experimented with secondary finishing using used bourbon barrels, French oak barrels, and sherry casks from Spain,” explains Seth Benhaim, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Infuse Spirits Group, Broken Barrel’s parent company. “I believed that there was a missed opportunity in traditional barrel finishing and wanted Broken Barrel to be an expansion of the barrel-finishing concept involving not only broken barrel staves but also the combination of multiple barrel types all finishing aged bourbon in tandem. I wasn’t sure how people would react to the concept. I’m thrilled to say the brand has been very well-received.”
The “Americana” bottling debuted last fall represents the fifth addition to the Broken Barrel portfolio, sourcing its core spirit from Owensboro’s historic Green River Distilling Co. (Coincidentally, Simon Burch parted ways with Green River last year to become Infuse Spirits Group’s CEO, where he now oversees the brand’s day-to-day operations and development.)
The 100-proof bourbon carries a mash bill of 80% corn, 14% rye, and 6% malted barley — plus the bonus of a 40% charred American oak, 40% toasted American oak, 20%
American apple brandy cask oak bill. Upon cracking open the bottle, the nose immediately offers up inviting suggestions of apple cider, honey, and plenty of rich oak (of course), continuing the apple notes at first sip along with toasted nuts, caramel, and buttery maple-topped pancakes. A dash of water introduces a touch of citrus, floral honeysuckle, and butterscotch. Yum. Unadorned, the mouthfeel is almost creamy in texture with a satisfying finish.
With its extremely reasonable suggested price tag of $35, there’s no good excuse for passing this one up.
“Previously, we offered a selection of Rare Americana offerings as part of our single barrel program for private groups and retailers,” Benhaim mentions via press materials. “The new Americana 100 proof whiskey was inspired by those bottlings, but is a much more accessible offering for Broken Barrel fans to enjoy regularly.”