Whiskey Review: Breckenridge XO Cognac Cask Finish Whiskey

, | September 5, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Breckenridge Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

Founded in 2008 by Bryan Nolt and hailing from Colorado, Breckenridge Distillery is known as the “World’s Highest Distillery,” and holds several awards for their blended bourbon high rye mash American-style whiskey. Other accolades include four wins as the Colorado Distillery of the Year by the New York International Spirits Competition, standing out amongst such competitors as the popular Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. With the second edition in the Collectors Art Series, the distillery offers Breckenridge XO Cognac Cask Finish Whiskey wrapped in a beautiful label from Denver street artist Alexandrea Pangburn.

The Collectors Art Series blends whiskey and color and includes a donation from Breckenridge Distillery of $5 per bottle sold to the ArtPark campaign, helping fund the RiNo Arts District and the region’s interdisciplinary arts center. Says Pangburn of her involvement in the limited series, “I’m very honored to have my art on a whiskey label in a very male-dominated industry. My hope is that this partnership opens the eyes of female artists that they have the capability to do this as well.”

While involvement with the local art scene certainly boosters the distillery’s name amongst the locals, it isn’t all for the recognition. Nolt states, “I’ve always had a passion for art, which led me to distill whiskey in the first place. The Collectors Art Series is special to Breckenridge Distillery because it allows us to highlight local artists making an impact in their community like Alex is doing in Colorado.” It’s with this openness to support the community and those within, as well as the desire and determination to continuously produce high quality spirits that Breckenridge Distillery gains growing loyalty from its consumers.

Breckenridge imported barrels from France that housed 15% Petite Champagne and 85% Grande champagne blends, aged an average of 25 years, and finished their classic bourbon whiskey for up to two years in those barrels to produce this limited release. As far as the whiskey tasting goes, the XO (standing for “Extra Old”) Cognac Cask finish offers a bit of subtle fruitiness, but the flavor profile is largely savory.

Breckenridge XO Cognac Cask Finish review

Breckenridge Whiskey Finished in XO Cognac Casks (image via Jerry Jenae Sampson/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Breckenridge XO Cognac Cask Finish Whiskey

Vital Stats: 48% ABV (96 Proof). Aged in French imported XO Cognac Cask barrels for just over 2 years. SRP $125/750mL.

Appearance: Clear, pale hay color, rapid legs.

Nose: The whiskey needs a minute to mellow, but at first sniff there’s a strong turpentine and tobacco that burns strong. The smokiness does translate to the palate, but the nose is fairly incongruent with the palate.

Palate: Smoky fennel, caraway, and anise come through up front. As stated above, a savory profile with only faint fruity notes. There’s a minimal but lingering fire that primarily targets the middle of the palate. Marshmallow and green apple round out for an overall earthy and aromatic tasting.



I always welcome a well-rounded and aromatic whiskey. This tasting was balanced and clean, the green apple works well with the spicier elements, and while the nose holds strong and smoky notes, no one element overwhelms the other, leaving me with a consistent and high-quality whiskey.

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Jerry Jenae Sampson

Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.