Another week, another Tweet Tasting and more American booze! This week’s selection comes from Balcones – an American distillery founded by Chip Tate, who felt the urge to do something new. And what success they’ve had, producing the first ever Texan whisky and the first ever Blue Corn whisky, both of which have proved extremely popular.
So, on Wednesday, I sat down with no less than FIVE of their products – which are currently available from Master of Malt as a tasting pack – for a fantastic evening of exploration. And you can find my thoughts below.
Staff Selection Limited Edition – 62.5% ABV
This inaugural Staff Selection is bottled at cask strength and has been hand selected by the entire Balcones team. Aged in bespoke Hungarian oak casks, the nose is nice and rounded. It reminded me of a sherried single malt, with lots of sweets flavours of treacle, vanilla and dark chocolate, with a bit of spice. The 62.5% ABV really lands on the palate though, with loads of oak, ginger and dark fruits, and a syrupy sweetness at the end. I thought it needed water, but on adding it, things just became too flattened out.
True Blue 100 – 50% ABV
This roasted blue corn whisky is the sibling of Baby Blue – not part of tonight’s tasting but another Balcones that I look forward to sampling. Its nose is pretty clean and fresh, although there’s also loads of oak, with autumnal fruits and a bit of brunt sugar too. The palate is clean as well but packed with sweetness – toffee and brown sugar linger, with peppery bursts to boot.
Blue Corn Bourbon – 64.5% ABV
This whisky is made using the same blue corn but has been aged in new, charred,225 litre American oak casks. The nose seems to completely hide its 64.5% ABV, although it’s very warm and welcoming. The deceptive delicacy completely disappears on the palate though, with citrus fruit and sweetness coming through, and warming notes of vanilla ice cream and oak. This one definitely benefited from some water though, mellowing things out whilst maintaining the flavour.
Texas Rum – 63.9% ABV
And just to confuse matters, let’s add some rum into the mix. Made from the finest molasses, this still goes through the distillery’s traditional double distillation process. As you would expect with rum, its packed full of sweetness – chocolate, vanilla, raisins, dermerera sugar, and some blackberries too. The palate is almost identical to a whisky and the 63.9% ABV barely makes its presence felt. Dangerous drinking but it was bloody superb! Like sticky toffee pudding but in a light, liquid form. And a bit of water accentuates all the flavours, whilst ironing out the harshness. Bravo!
Brimstone – 53% ABV
Things started to come off the rails slightly here. Rather than using Scottish peat smoke, this “one of a kind whisky” is smoked with sun-baked Texas scrub oak. All I could get off it was rubber and bacon. And it tasted of crispy bacon fries. Just plain weird but I’m sure there’s an audience out there for it.
Bar the Brimstone at the end, what a range! I’d gladly buy a bottle of any of these, but surprisingly, I’d opt for the Texas Rum if I had to choose. Sorry whisky fans but it had me absolutely smitten.