Veteran Bourbon Review: Broken Barrel Reserve Oak Series Straight (2021 Rum & Rye Cask Finish)


Green River Distilling Company (Sourced)


70% Corn, 21% Rye, 9% Malted Barley


2 Years Minimum


115 Proof

Purchase Price $60 (2022)

Official Product Website

History – Broken Barrel Bourbon features a unique blend of corn, rye, and barley that makes it perfectly balanced to infuse. We partnered with an incredible world-class Kentucky Bourbon distillery to select the finest bourbon base for our products. The bourbon is aged a minimum of two years to be called a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which also ensures a specific quality we’re looking for before incorporating our Oak Bill™

What is the Oak Bill?

After a minimum of two years in new charred oak barrels, the bourbon is dumped to steel tanks, where each batch of Broken Barrel is hit with new French oak staves, ex-bourbon barrel staves, and a blend of ex-sherry cask staves.

Rich, complex, layered and beyond beautiful, Broken Barrel boldly goes where other whiskies won’t – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. –

The Broken Barrel Reserve Oak Series comes in 4 “Oak Bill” finishes for the 2021 Release. These finishes are Port Cask, Peace Brandy Cask, Rum & Rye Cask, and Stout Beer Cask.

This particular selection being reviewed is the Rum & Rye Cask finish consisting of 75% new Barbadian Rum cask staves and 25% ex-Rye cask staves. 

Value – I purchased this bourbon at $60 dollars. It seems like most of these newer companies have decided that this is their price point for higher proof bourbons and whiskeys. With that being said, it’s still a little pricey in my opinion. It’s missing the consistency of an older bourbon with a similar price point.   

Appearance – They did a great job with these bottles. It really stands out on the shelf with its colors, shape and markings. It’s filled with a light amber colored whiskey/bourbon and comes with a good quality corked top. Whoever has designed these along with their marketing team is doing an excellent job. 

Nose – Rum Cake / Light Apple / Cane Sugar / High Alcohol Fumes This bourbon smells great! I think their process of using huge pieces of used rum barrels to enhance their bourbon really does a good job. The only problem is the high alcohol fumes. As long as you let it breathe for quite a while it’s not a big deal, however, fumes are very extreme for my liking and even for a higher proof.

Palate – Alcohol / Cane sugar / Dry / Hot / Watery  Alright, this is where I lose interest. Because it’s only a 2 year aged bourbon and has an unspecified amount of time soaking up the used rum barrel stave character, it really suffers on the flavor and consistency. Not only does it have the consistency of water, there is no complexity to this at all. It’s not oily in any way. It’s very dry and has a lot of alcohol burn. It’s really hard to get past the burn and only has a slight sweetness to it. Very disappointing.  

Finish – Apple Ale / Hot / Crisp Fruitiness / Dry  So the finish redeems a little bit.  After the intense burn, you get notes of apple which reminds me of the after taste of apple ale or even apple cider. Surprisingly the heat level does not stick around for long leaving you with a nice, sweet apple finish. The finish is dry, but somehow works.

Summary – I’m conflicted with rating this one. I think the company is creative, trying to change the game and do something different. They even trademarked their custom “Oak Bill”. Unfortunately this review isn’t about the creativity of the company and their excellent marketing and design. It’s about the quality of this product and this one really suffers. They are barely squeaking by calling this bourbon. Since they are sourcing their 2 year bourbon and adding used rum staves to the mix, it really seems like a rushed product to me. The extra high alcohol fumes and heat level of the drink really overpower any flavors they were trying to pull off. However, I did enjoy the nose and finish. Absolutely let it breathe before trying to consume it.

“Great nose other than the high alcohol fumes and extra heat. This is one bourbon that would probably be great to cook or bake with. The sugary and fruitiness would really compliment a boozy dessert. If you drink it neat, be sure to let it breathe and add some drops of water. 

– John McGowan


Uniqueness – 1-10 – 9

Appearance- 1-10 – 9

Nose- 1-20 – 13

Palate- 1-20 – 6

Finish- 1-20 – 9

Value- 1-20 – 8

Reviewed By:

John McGowan on 12/26/2022

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