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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#WhiskyWeekender Tweet Tasting

Last Thursday I was among a group of people who took part in a tweet tasting, conducted as always by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire but with a slight change because rather than being from one distillery or independent bottler it was to help showcase some of the offerings which will be available during the London Whisky Weekender on the 16,17 7 & 18th of May at The Oval Space, Hackney, full details HERE.

The tasting was to be conducted blind, leaving us to look daft as we guessed wildly what each dram possibly was, so onto the tasting notes.

whisky weekender So starting with dram 1, a nice light golden colour and once poured the nose was light and approachable with lots of ripe fruits, slightly tropical, papaya and lime, the sweetness of a spiced mead and as it opened more citrus notes developed along with a creaminess. Onto the palate, sweet but with a slight savoury edge (like a salted caramel), a hit of chilli heat but there is fruit in the form of apple and pears. The finish is quite lingering slightly tannic, cinnamon and apples prevail. Dram 1 was revealed as Berry Bros & Rudd 1992 Longmorn (46% ABV) Speyside Single Malt. longmorn

The colour of dram 2 in the bottle screams heavily sherried whisky, into the glass it goes and the nose gives floral notes, pine needles, aniseed, stewed plums, it’s sweet and fruity and the more I nose it I start to think it’s maybe matured in a rum cask. Onto the palate and there is a slight fizz on the tongue, sweet, cola bottles, woody and slightly reminiscent of hints of a sipping rum like Diplomatica Reserva. The finish is spicy and has hints of aniseed and oak. Dram 2 was revealed as Tiffon Chateau de Triac (40% ABV) Cognac, a curveball.tiffon

Onto dram 3 and immediately on opening there’s no mistaking the peat. The nose gives peat, pepper, savoury and on the night I couldn’t shake of a hint of Campbell’s cream of tomato soup, in the background there is some vanilla sweetness. The palate is lovely the peat is much less pronounced than the nose would suggest, it’s vanilla sweet and  slightly spicy as it develops on the tongue, with plenty of fruit in there. The finish is slightly spicy with sweet peat and nice and long. Dram 3 was revealed as anCnoc Rutter (46% ABV) Highland Single Malt.ancnoc

Onto dram 4, less pronounced peat on the nose, malty, oily, coastal, subtle peat and smoke, the remnants of a driftwood bonfire on the beach and lemon note which cuts through it all. Onto the palate a kick of alcohol, definitely cask strength, more smoke and peat than was promised by the nose, again there’s the citrus note of lemon, it’s also sweet and hot (a chilli crunchie note as one taster noted). The finish is long and smoky still with the lingering heat. Dram 4 was revealed as an SMWS Bottling, 53.197 ‘A stoker in drag’ (57.4% ABV) Islay Single Malt (Caol Ila).caol

All in all a great line up with the anCnoc Rutter being my favourite whisky of the night but I was also really impressed by the Cognac. As always there was great company on the night and if you want to see others views just search for #WhiskyWeekender on twitter.

Thanks once again to The Whisky Lounge for the samples and The Whisky Wire for his hosting on the night.