A Taste of Texas, Balcones Distilling.

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The 5 Balcones spirits tasted in this review are available to buy in a limited edition tasting set available HERE from Master of Malt.Balcones-Limited-Edition-Set

Balcones Staff Selection single cask bottled at 62.5%ABV. This is a single cask of Texas single malt whisky, aged in bespoke Hungarian oak casks, chosen by the entire Balcones team and is the first release of a planned yearly limited edition relesase.                                                                                      Nose, muscavado sugar, wood shavings, good quality dark chocolate, cloves and cinnamon there is something dark and brooding about this. Palate, lots of oak, spices, grapefruit sprinkled with demerera, slightly tannic, strong espresso coffee, dark chocolate with lime and a lingering fruit note I can’t quite pin down.                                                                     Finish, lingering oak, pink grapefruit and lime.

Balcones True Blue 100 bottled at 50%ABV. 100 proof roasted blue corn whisky.                                                                                                                        Nose, undercooked pastry, buttery and linseed oil putty up front, creamy with some soft spices in the background.                                                     Palate, oak, spicy and quite hot, salted caramel, the taste you get in your mouth about 5 minutes after you’ve drank coffee, treacle and cocoa, there is some slightly sour fruits as well, unripe cherries possibly.                 Drying finish with lots of oak and spice.

Balcones Blue Corn Bourbon bottled at 64.5%. Made with the same spirit as Baby Blue, True Blue and Brimstone but aged in charred, new 225 litre American oak casks.                                                                                                         Nose, menthol, slightly burnt fruit cake, chambord liquer or Creme de Cassis, vanilla sugar, charred casks, toffee.                                                 Palate, so much going on, Creme de cassis, intense fruit from a bourbon? aniseed, the pipe tobacco my wifes grandad used to smoke, the fresh oak barrels are evident and there is vanilla and a certain sweetness.          Finish slightly astringent, tangy almost, leaves you wanting another fruity sip.

Balcones Texas Rum bottled at 63.9%ABV. This rum is made from molasses and is double distilled and matured in a variety of casks of varying oak species and toast profiles.                                                             Nose, almond danish pastries, play doh, chilli spice, fig jam, red fruits, menthol, black cardamon with wood smoke/barrel char.                         Palate, less explosive than the ABV would suggest, own brand cola with a bit of root beer mixed in, dark brown sugar, herbal, slightly bitter, cloves. The finish delivers cherry cola.

Balcones Brimstone bottled at 53% ABV. A texan take on smoky whisky, rather than peat smoke they smoke this whisky with sun baked Texas scrub oak using a secret process.                                                                        Nose, shorting electrical wires, smokey bacon thats well done, then its sweeter, burnt sweet waffles, it evokes the idea of a wax polished floor thats been in a fire, like a fire at a stately home.                                         Palate, initially sweet, almost sugar water, then it’s like chewing a charred bit of bacon thats fallen onto the bbq coals, the smokiness is big and powerful but there is some citrus that freshens the palate, maybe even some green apples and something slightly floral.                                       Finish has ash and smoke but mixed with a fruitiness.

Many thanks to Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire, Emily Harris and Drinks by the Dram.

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Port Askaig 100° Proof

Port Askaig are a range of single malt whiskies released by Speciality Drinks and named after the Port Askaig village on Islay. Since it’s launch in 2009 it has had several different age statements some of which are still available and has included whisky from 3 different Islay distilleries, so good luck pinning down exactly which Islay malt is in your bottle. They have recently launched a 45yo, 30yo, 15yo and the whisky in this review the Port Askaig 100° Proof at 57.1% available from the Whisky Exchange for £44.95.

PA100On the nose it’s very fresh and vibrant, sea spray and brine, charred meat, peat, sliced white bread, barley, damp ash, slight citrus, there is some green apples and gooseberries.

The palate is initially sweet, there is peat and a fruity note followed by salted lemons and lemon sherbert’s, finally there is some cinnamon spice and wood char.

portaskaig_150The finish delivers citrus notes and ash/sooty notes and is slightly drying.

Overall for me this is a whisky which sits in the company of whiskies like Aberlour A’Bunadh and Benromach 100 Proof, good value with plenty to offer.