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Broken Bell Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Review: Broken Bell Bourbon   (81/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published November 7, 2013

Broken Bell Bourbon is a whiskey brand developed by Distiller Sales Company of Princeton, Minnesota. Distiller Sales is a division of a company called USDP (United States Distilled Spirits Co.). They describe themselves as a “leading developer of corporate brand distilled spirits programs”.  The company boast sales in 32 Countries worldwide, and some of those brands which are available in my home market include: Ethan Koll 8 Year Old Canadian Whisky, Cross Keys 5 Yr Old Barbados Rum, Monkey Paw Rum, Luxus Vodka, Capatina French Vodka and Veil Premium Vodka.

I was provided a sample bottle of Broken Bell Bourbon by Jfj Agency Inc. who is the distributor of Distiller Sales Co. brands in Alberta.

SAM_0977 Broken bellIn the Bottle 4/5

Broken Bell Small Batch Bourbon arrives in a rectangular flask style bottle without an age statement, nor does the bottle give us any information as to where the spirit was distilled. The label does tell us that the spirit was bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, that it is apparently “hand crafted” and ‘extra smooth”. The illustration of the Broken Bell on the label is (I am guessing) a depiction of the cracked Liberty Bell (an iconic symbol of American Independence) and serves in this case to indicate the bourbon’s status as an independently bottled American Bourbon Whiskey.

In the Glass  8/10

When poured into my glencairn glass, the Broken Bell Whiskey displayed itself with a golden amber glow. The spirit is lighter in colour than other bourbon whiskeys I have sampled recently, which indicates to me that perhaps the bourbon is a relatively young whiskey. (According to my conversations with various whiskey brand ambassadors, an American Bourbon without an age statement must be at least 4 years old. This places a lower limit upon my speculation regarding the age of the bourbon.)

When I tilt the glass and twirl it, I see an army of small drooplets developing which crawl back into the whiskey forming skinny legs as they drop. The aroma from the glass is typical of a young bourbon featuring fresh oak scents melded with barbequed corn. I sense spicy tobacco and raisins, dried apricots, some spicy oak sap and orange peel spice.

The spirit also features a few hints of alcohol astringency which rise into the breezes above the glass. Having said that, I also sense a certain vibrancy in those same  breezes which is appealing. Sweet butterscotch aromas, hints of anise, vanilla and traces of marzipan make this a pleasant whiskey to sniff prior to taking a sip.

In the Mouth  49.5/60

The combination of the 45 % alcohol by volume and the relative youth of the bourbon make this a spirit which is quite brash carrying more than just a little heat from alcohol and wood spice. The flavours under this heat are quite nice. I taste butterscotch melded into oak sap, sweet and sour corn, meandering flavours of dry fruit and raisins, an almond-like marzipan and some spicy tobacco all finding their place in the whiskey.

Although it would be disingenuous to describe the whiskey as a smooth sipping spirit, this does not mean that I do not enjoy it. All one has to do is add a couple of ice cubes, a dash of cola, and then throw in a few drops of Angostura bitters. The result is a fine Buckaroo cocktail which is not only easy to drink, it is also delicious. Mixing with fresh mint, ice, and soda water also reveals a very satisfying Mint Julep.

In the Throat  11.5/15

The spirit has a peppery finish carrying flavours of oak sap and tobacco through the exit and adding a light alcohol burn as it goes down. Although this heat is not necessarily welcome in a sipping spirit; in a mixer, this spiciness is very welcome. Quite welcome as well, are lingering flavours of butterscotch and vanilla.

The Afterburn 8/10

Broken Bell Small Batch Bourbon is one of those spirits which although it did not garner a stratospheric score is nonetheless a welcome addition to my bar shelf. This is not a well aged sipping bourbon one would pair with a cigar. Rather it is a mixing bourbon which one would pair with cola or ginger ale to make tall flavourful cocktails and bar drinks for the back yard barbeque. Because I am a fan of tall deck drinks and back yard barbeques, I am a fan of the Broken Bell Bourbon.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipes:

SAM_0982 Broken Bell BuckerooBroken Bell Buckeroo

1 1/2 oz Broken Bell Small Batch Bourbon
few drops of Angostura Bitters
Ice
Dash of Cola
Slice of Lime for garnish (Optional)

Build in a tall glass with ice
Complete with Cola
Garnish with a lime slice if you desire

And of course, enjoy responsibly!

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SAM_0836 Minted brass CoolerMinted Brass

2 oz  Broken Bell Bourbon
1/2 oz Lime juice
3 drops Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Sugar syrup
3 mint leaves
ice

soda to fill
mint sprig

Muddle 3 mint leaves and the Sugar syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass
Add the Broken Bell Bourbon and Angostura Bitters
Stir and fine strain into a tall glass filled with ice
Complete with soda
Garnish with a sprig of mint
Enjoy Responsibly!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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