Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished with Oak Staves
Company: Broken Barrel Whiskey Co.
Distillery: Los Angeles Distillery
Release Date: February 2023
Age: NAS (Company website states 5.5 years)
Mashbill: 51% Corn, 49% Wheat
Color: Dark Copper
MSRP: $120 (2023)
Brandy soaked cherries | Sweet sugary grape | Brown sugar | Sharp baking spice | Toasted oak
Vanilla | Black currants | Chinese five spice | Light tannins | Thick oak
Malt | Wet earthy notes | Plum | Rich dry oak
Broken Barrel’s first collaboration limited release is a whopper of flavor and proof, which further makes the case for oak stave finishing.
Broken Barrel continues to own the “whiskey finished with oak staves” space. They get more and more creative with each release and their previous, Americana, was their most standout product yet. Not to be caught standing still, the company released their first limited release which is also their first collaboration release. Broken Barrel x Los Angeles Distillery Collaboration is their most ambitious release to date and really flexes their creative muscle.
The whiskey’s base is a 5.5 year old 51% corn, 49% wheat Los Angeles Distillery distilled bourbon, which was aged in dense new Hungarian white oak custom elongated barrels. The company states that the barrels feature grooves carved into each stave, adding 60% additional surface area contact to impart more flavor. From there, Broken Barrel’s trademark Oak Bill comes into play, which for this release sees the company inserting 80% Tokaji and 20% single malt casks staves into the barrels during its finishing process. That’s a lot to take in and the bourbon’s taste mirrors that sentiment.
It starts with a wonderfully expressive aroma that contains an appealing amount of brandy soaked cherries, sugary grape, brown sugar, and toasted oak. The influence it took from the Hungarian dessert wine Tokaji Aszú staves really comes through on the aroma. The whiskey’s sip takes a turn to the wild side as it contains a barrage of vanilla, black currants, and something close to Chinese five spice. Its oak content also becomes unavoidable, as thick layers of rich oak begin here and run throughout the rest of the sip. The finish has a punchy malty aspect to it before wet earthiness and plum are offered. It finishes with more rich oak that turns dry.
There is a lot going on with this finished bourbon and your enjoyment of it will depend on if you like your whiskeys on the more manageable side, or more chaotic. The whiskey struggles to come together into a cohesive drinking experience with so many flavors coming at you at once. But there is an originality on display here and an interesting flavor combination that I have to point out and celebrate. Los Angeles Distillery still has a small reach in the national bourbon market, so it's great to see them able to reach a larger audience here. Broken Barrel once again continues to prove there’s something special and unique about oak staves finishing.