Or…..It Takes A Lot to Wow Me!
Not being a professional whisky taster, nor a member of the top economic 1%, my opportunities to taste whisky comes from occasional trips, via festivals, store tastings, purchasing blind, friends, and at this point about 10 years into the love and passion of whisky. About 400 whiskies later, I am still finding new whiskies, old whiskies, from all over the world and ever so locally to sample. They are everywhere and as you know – new whiskies are being produced at a tremendous pace. Hard to keep up as well as find those in limited production or simply rare bottlings. Sure is fun trying though.
So along comes a visit from a friend outa Texas. I ask her to bring a whisky from her area. I hadn’t tried Balcones Whisky and thought it might be an interesting bottle. She brought a bottle of aptly named Balcones Brimstone and my life is forever changed.
Balcones Distilling, located in Waco, Texas, is only eight years old and has already won well over 160 awards. Where have I been? The web site boasts “Handcrafted, small batch spirits lovingly made in the distillery we built with our own hands.” 2016 has brought a new site and new stills. The web site is worth a visit to learn more of the official sort of information.
Back to my bottle of Brimstone. This expression is made with 100% blue corn, which I had to look up for an explanation. Wisegeek.com explained to this city girl that….
“Corn, indigenous to the Americas, is one of its oldest vegetables. Blue corn is one of the oldest varieties. The Pueblo tribe in the Southwestern United States was using it at least as far back as 1540, when Spanish explorers discovered the region. But this type of corn certainly goes back to the pre-Colombian era.
Blue corn is open-pollinated, so its growth is not as easily regulated as is that of commercial hybrid yellow or white field corn. It is a floury corn, and has about 30 percent more protein than the average hybrid corn. It is still widely used in the Southwest and Mexico, where it is a staple food.”
The Brimstone bottle proudly boasts that it is Texas Scrub Oak Smoked. I don’t know what other secrets Balcones is holding close to its vest but between the blue corn and the scrub oak smoke, my senses have found a new level of excitement and puzzlement.
Balcones says of its Brimstone, “a deep, punchy experience.” An understatement. The nose hits with a campfire smoke, but once on the palate the barbeque smoke emerges with rich stone fruit and popcorn seeped in butter or is it molasses? I find myself puzzled by some sweet striking boldness that is unlike single malts or bourbon or rye. Did I taste some sea sand? What? The mint on the finish is surprising. I don’t think I have ever found that on other whiskies. Some of the barbeque ash lingers and makes me want a cigar. The punch is legit.
All I can say is if you can find it buy and judge for yourself. I enthusiastically score it a 4 out of 4! Oh yeah, I like that Balcones spells “whisky” no “e.”
Balcones, I raise a glass to your ingenuity. Just get all your whiskies to Massachusetts, please. I want to try them all! Wait! Did someone say field trip?