By Richard Thomas
Just because you have an urban distillery doesn’t mean you can’t have a locovore’s, DIYer’s attitude towards running a micro-distillery. Breuckelen Distilling, located (no points for guessing) in Brookyn, New York is an example. They use New York State-grown grains, mill the grain themselves, and distill and age in-house. In case you were wondering, “Breuckelen” is the old Dutch spelling for Brooklyn.
In the case of the 77 Wheat Whiskey, that means a 100% wheat mashbill, and barreling in a mix of #3 char 25- and 53-gallon barrels made with air-dried oak. The previous reviews of this whiskey that I have seen around the internet were from versions that were aged less than a year, whereas the bottle I tried was marked as aged for 523 days. That extra five to six months can definitely make quite a difference in terms of wood flavor extraction, and perhaps a slight difference the chemical breakdowns and transitions during maturation that require time as well.
Breucklen’s 77 Wheat Whiskey has a nice middle amber, leaning into orange coloring in the glass. When given the swish, it positively steams legs.
The nose shows lengthy aging, or what is lengthy aging for a small barrel. It’s thick with caramel. Gooey, very slightly salty caramel. The scent oozes with the stuff. There are hints of citrus zest, toffee, and cookie spices in there, but it’s a caramel candy nose through and through.
On the palate, the flavor is still thick with caramel, but sweeter now and showing signs of brown sugar, and just a touch woody. That woody touch lingers into the finish for a short spell, before fading to leave just that lingering, omnipresent caramel and mild warmth.
Breuckelen 77 Wheat Whiskey has a huge American oak imprint on it, so much so that the wheat speaks very little in the whiskey. It’s a secondary character in what is a predominately vanillin and wood sugars drama. What makes it special is that it has taken such a large dose of wood-driven flavors without actually becoming woody. There is an oaky trace on the palate and finish, but nothing beyond that, so it’s certainly not an over-aged small barrel whiskey. That makes it a nice, easy drinking, simple whiskey, and there is nothing wrong with simple and easy drinking in my book.
Breuckelen Distilling’s 77 Wheat Whiskey is listed at $45 to $50 with most online retailers, but beware as some mark it up to $60.