- DISTILLER: Produced by Broken Barrel Whiskey but “Distilled in Owensboro Kentucky” (Green River Distillery)
- MASH BILL: 70% Corn | 21% Rye | 9% Malted Barley
- OAK BILL: 80% Central Coast Cabernet Wine Barrel Staves and 20% French Oak Staves
- AGE: A minimum of 2 years
- YEAR: 2022
- PROOF: 88 (44% ABV)
- MSRP: $32
SHARE WITH: A curious bourbon newcomer.
WORTH THE PRICE: Yes! It’s a uniquely constructed whiskey with easy-going, familiar flavors.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Try it at a bar first, but if the price fits in your “everyday sipper” range, then grab a bottle.
OVERALL: Broken Barrel isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel with their lowest proof offering, but it is making a strong case that young whiskey can be elevated with the addition of staves. By utilizing what the company describes as a unique “oak bill,” Broken Barrel’s California Oak is able to avoid some of the pitfalls of bourbon that’s too youthful (namely, an outsized grain presence and rough-around-the-edges mouthfeel) and offer an enjoyable tasting experience.
Replete with flavors of red berry cereal (think Special K), raw almonds, and vanilla cake frosting which are tied together with a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel, this expression will be a treat for anyone new to bourbon. As for the more experienced enthusiast, the fact that this expression comes together in such a well-rounded fashion after only two years of aging will be appreciated even if it doesn’t quite rival the refinement of bourbon aged twice as long. The price is right, and despite a few youthful grain notes that belie how underdeveloped the base spirit still is, Broken Barrel’s “oak bill” experiment has an admirable proof of concept laid out with their California Oak offering.
Check out Matt Self's previous review of Broken Barrel California Oak to get a second opinion on this unique whiskey.
Broken Barrel California Oak
"California Oak was created as a bourbon that could seamlessly bring the wine drinker into the world of whiskey. This is a step into our world and an everyday sipping whiskey made to be drunk neat and often."
- NOSE: Cabernet-reminiscent notes, fruit-forward, toasted vanilla.
- TASTE: Marshmallow, cherry, oak-heavy finish.
- FINISH: Lingers, while remaining balanced and approachable.