Deep in the heart of California wine country sits the quiet town of Buellton. Known for being the filming location of the movie Sideways and for being the “Home of Split Pea Soup,” the town has also recently become known for its alcohol production. In fact, Santa Barbara County’s first whiskey distillery, Ascendant Spirits, is nestled comfortably between a winery and a brewery. Ascendant produces and bottles a variety of spirits, including citrus-infused vodkas using local caviar limes and strawberries.
Breaker Bourbon is also produced by Ascendant Spirits. Even though they source their whisky, they reportedly hand-select each barrel to obtain a specific, high-quality flavor profile and small-batch releases. The natural climate in this area of California, the distillery says, has a major impact on the blend’s flavor; the area has high coastal humidity, and average temperatures fluctuate up to 40 degrees per day, and that allows the whiskey to breathe and age more quickly and set it apart from other sourced whiskies. While I can’t speak to the science behind this process with any expertise, they’re definitely doing something right because Breaker Bourbon is delightful.
image via Shauna McKnight/The Whiskey Wash
Whiskey Review: Breaker Bourbon
Vital Stats: Breaker is a limited release bourbon from a selection of eight barrels, aged for a minimum of five years. It is 45% abv, 90 proof and costs between $35 – $60 per bottle. Mine is bottle number 527 from batch number two. The mash bill is corn, rye and barley, and the blend is sourced from Indiana.
Appearance: The color is a rich amber, but isn’t necessarily dark. Legs are jaunty; they don’t form neat lines in the side of the glass, instead leaving pools of whisky that look like rain droplets.
Nose: A sweet and fruity bouquet fills the air while I let the whiskey rest in a lowball glass. Notes of heavy vanilla, grapefruit, and coconut are complemented by pepper and caramel.
Palate: Vanilla kicks off the show, with light charred oak flavors swirling around together with a caramel finish. It definitely tastes just like it smells, and leaves me with a teeny tiny bit of rye spice surprise on the end. It’s just enough to add a touch of complexity and spice without overpowering the spirit with a rye punch in the mouth. The finish is very smooth, and gently lingers on your tongue with a sweet kiss of caramel.
What I enjoyed the most about this whisky is that it was so well-balanced and easy to drink. It wasn’t too sweet or too spicy, and the flavors didn’t linger in any weird way. I would definitely choose to buy another bottle of this whiskey based on its flavor alone, and I’m excited to experiment more with it in cocktails.