Monday, 11 January 2016

More Balcones Fun

More Balcones tasted as part of another super Tweet Tasting.  I was on the last one too, which was the Distiller’s Selection Private Barrel Tour – just incredible and included the Brimstone Resurrection, WWA winner and something I have been dreaming about ever since. 

Since then I’ve been preoccupied and hadn’t been paying attention to new things coming out.  The staff selection casks came and went quickly in the UK while I was looking at Scotland.  We picked up some of their Texas rum in our bottle share group – but I ended up tasting that for the first time as part of this TT, and by that point stocks of that had disappeared.  You know what happens next…

Balcones Staff Selection 2014, Limited edition, cask 3549, 62.5% A⊕+

Hand selected by the entire team to celebrate the year's work for 2014, aged in Hungarian oak casks. There will be a limited edition Staff Selection release each year. 172 bottles.

Under 5 years old, started in American oak barrels, and finished in a European oak barrel (for under 4 months).  100% golden promise barley.

balcones-single-barrel-staff-selection-cask-3549-whiskyNose - Deep toffee, black fruit, but structured like a heavily sherried Scotch. Tic tacs and granite. Oak cubes. Dark sugar sweetness and blue cheese, Pritt Stick and chocolate covered raisins. With time, vanilla sponge cake and icing, and great musky fruit. Even fruitier with water - a big, complex bruiser of a whisky.

Body - Massive. Spiced figs and lots of wood, but not overly done - lovely demerara notes and very rich and ripe. Then a massive blast of retronasal new charred oak, sour, tannic and like gunpowder on the palate. More fruit but more bitter with water.

Finish - Very long, coffee and big oak, with sweet red fruit and boiled sweets balancing the massive tannins.

Balcones True Blue 100% proof, 50% A⊕

100 proof roasted blue corn whisky, matured in small American oak barrels before being married in large premium American casks.  These were 5 and 60 gallon American oak, filled previously with other Balcones spirits

balcones-true-blue-whiskyNose - Delicious, immediately. Vanilla cream, pastry, cherry lip gloss, chocolate brazil nuts and wooden rulers.

Body - Soft and sweet, brown sugar, privet hedge and water biscuits. Sweet popcorn from a packet (slightly crispy), and Marlboro light tobacco.

Finish - Long and soft, ripe with glacé cherries. New leather belt at the end and a bit of whiteboard marker. What a gentle, delicious whisky. Great balance too.

Balcones Blue Corn Bourbon, 64.5% A+

Made with the same blue corn spirit, aged in charred new 225 litre american oak casks.  For this first batch they used 5 American and 1 French oak casks

balcones-texas-blue-corn-bourbon-whiskyNose - Deep, rich and astringent. More sherry bomb Scotch and burnt Christmas cake. Fried raisins and onions. With water, more obviously bourbon, but lovely balance.

Body - Absolutely enormous, eye-wateringly strong. The intense sherry bomb notes combined with the ABV make it colossal. Tobacco, toast, oak and paprika. Very Texan. Water calms it down a lot - red fruit and wax, buttered popcorn.

Finish - Stagg-like - waffles, oak, honey, wood, sugar, barrels. Lots of wood, lots of oil. With water, a really calm, delicious, confectionary finish with sweet crispy popcorn again.

Balcones Texas Rum, 69.3% A⊕

Finest molasses, a range of oak species (3 American, 2 Hungarian, and 1 French refill cask). 25% evaporation in just over 3 years.  I really regret not bagging a bottle of this for the archive.

balcones-texas-rumNose - Dark and heavily oaked. Acrylic varnish on fresh oak planks, liquorice imps, if I'm getting sweetness its wrapped in a dark cloak. More fruit cake than icing, with permanent markers and dried cherries. With water, some marzipan. These notes are starting to read like a great SMWS Scotch…

Body - There's the rum, this was more Scotch than rum up until now. But it's quite fleeting (front of mouth and top of nose), the lasting impression is yet more sherry bomb, weirdly. Some cut grass too. Meatily sweet, bloody delicious too.

Finish - Big, spicy and very long. Winey too - red wine cask rather than sherry.

Very, very good.

We also tasted the Brimstone.  I’ve written notes for that before so I just enjoyed it really.  It’s lovely stuff, sweeter here than I remember it but really tricky.  I recommend it, but I’m not sure when I’d drink it (which is why I’ve never bought a bottle).  A fascinating oddity though.

Whatever you think about the old Balcones troubles, they’re still making fantastic whisky.  I’m sure they will continue to do so in the new premises although no doubt it will change in some ways, but I’m well impressed with this lot.  Cheers!

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