Whiskey Review: Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey

Set in a rugged, relatively remote part of Oregon surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes in the Cascade Range, it’s not surprising that Bend-area distilleries like Cascade Street Distilling take inspiration from their scenic surroundings.

The brother and sister team who founded the Sisters-based company a few years ago reportedly took their inspiration from a mountain-view landscape painting their parents acquired from a local artist and named their three primary offerings after the three peaks depicted.

With a vodka and gin named North Sister and South Sister, respectively, founders Nick and Katie Beasley completed their triumvirate with their Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey and adorned each bottle with the third of the painting that bears its namesake mountain.  (To be clear, Broken Top is a separate, older volcano vent and not the Middle Sister that forms the more widely recognized Three Sisters). 

This “mountain style bourbon” consists of a mash of American corn, rye, and barley aged for two years in new, charred American Kentucky oak barrels.

While one local profile of the distillery indicated they were sourcing at least their gin and vodka from the nearby Bendistillery behind Crater Lake Rye and Black Butte Whiskey, it’s not specified if their whiskey comes from there as well.

The final product is bottled at 87.5 proof and sold for about $35 per 750mL bottle. However, this bourbon is only available throughout Oregon and Idaho at this point.  

Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey

image via Aaron Knapp/The Whiskey Wash

Tasting Notes: Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey

Vital stats: Bourbon whiskey made with a mash of corn, rye, and barley and aged two years in new, charred, Kentucky oak casks. Bottle at 43.7% ABV and sold for about $35 per bottle.

Appearance: About average golden amber with a slightly reddish hue.

Nose: The first sniff off this whiskey brings a bright, acidic bouquet into the nasal passages, consisting particularly of lemon, honey, hay, and a bit a ginger. Keeping the hay aroma, it gradually evolves to develop a strong caramel scent, the sweetness of which is subdued by nutmeg and clove.

Palate: The first sip glides onto the tongue like honey with faint floral notes cutting into the sweetness a bit. That rapidly evolves on the tongue, though, and transitions to more a richer caramel that quickly gets earthier and spicier as ginger, nutmeg and clove elements manifest themselves and build as they remain on the tongue. Swallowing sends a rush of caramel throughout the mouth, which is then ebbed off by a slow tide of spices that tingles as it slowly marches from front to back. That leaves the tongue coated with an earthy, caramel that occasionally flashes with spice for the next minute or so.

The Takeaway

While not among the most complex bourbons I’ve tasted, Broken Top Bourbon Whiskey’s strength lies in its balance. It manages be both sweet and spicy without leaning too much to either side, potentially making it a friendly introduction point for novice bourbon drinkers while still satisfying aficionados. Again, it won’t blow your mind with subtlety or complexity, but it is a fine sipper and would likely add character to a bourbon mix drink.

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Aaron Knapp