Balcones Single Barrel European Oak Single Malt (Barrel #16009), 64.1%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Marrying fruit and pastry aromas, the first whiff brings angel food cake topped with strawberries, which soon develop into a jammier presentation. There are also notes of mango, pineapple, and guava, along with currants, dried chile, dry oak, and caramel. On the palate, strawberry jam and sweet mango balance out chewy oak, chile heat, mocha, and rich spice, sliding into a wave of spice, tropical fruit, smoked almonds, and cocoa powder on the finish.
Balcones Hechiceros Port Cask-Finished Single Malt (Batch 18-1), 61.5%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $100
Round, ripe fruit flavors permeate this robust whiskey finished in port casks. Rich caramel-apple cider on the nose, along with red candy apple, toasted almonds, cinnamon raisin bread, and earthy spice. It's brightly fruity on the palate, showing off berries, green apple candy, dried figs, and Welch's grape juice, as well as ample spice, dark chocolate, and nuts. Persistent grape and strawberry into the finish, along with roasted walnuts, warming spice, and rich, chocolaty oak.
Balcones Brujeria Sherry Cask-Finished Single Malt (Batch 18-1), 62.9%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $130
The oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks that this whiskey was finished in present themselves right up front, with raisins, dried figs, marmalade, blackcurrants, leather, cinnamon, allspice, and dried chile on the nose. The full, somewhat tannic palate is savory and sweet all at once, juxtaposing dark fruit, ample spice, figs, raisins, and marmalade with hazelnuts, almonds, mole sauce, and tobacco. Transitioning into the finish, peppery spice, dried fruit, dark chocolate, mocha, cigar, and rich oak highlight the finesse and balance this whiskey pulls off with aplomb.
The nose has coffee beans, dark chocolate, green pepper, jalapeño, blueberry, and bonfire—like an amaro that’s trying to pick a fight. On the palate, it’s sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky: Mexican chocolate, grilled pineapple and corn, smoked nuts, coffee ice cream, chipotle, and barrel char. The mouthwatering finish continues the theme, with mole sauce, coffee bean, dark chocolate, roasted pecans, and smoked almonds. There are a lot of layers here—you’re going to want to spend time exploring them.
Balcones Rum Cask-Finished Texas (Batch R20-1), 62%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Don’t try to be macho and slug this without water; you’ll miss out on its best characteristics. Totally neat, it’s quite good, but constrained by the numbing alcohol. Add some water and unlock flavors that continue to develop: tropical fruit, cinnamon stick, dark chocolate, and caramel on the nose, and more fruit, nuts, eucalyptus, and bitter herbs on the palate. It has a juicy, mouthwatering character with water, capped off by the well-integrated finish of charred oak, roasted pineapple, eucalyptus, and coffee beans.
Balcones Single Barrel American Oak Single Malt (Barrel #16582), 63.3%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
Persimmon pudding, guava juice, baked apple, blueberry, and pineapple on the nose, as well as fresh clay, pencil shavings, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salty ham. The palate is big and chewy, with Popsicle stick, dried chile, roasted nuts, black pepper, and juicy guava and pineapple. More tropical fruit rounds out the palate, mingling with pepper, nuts, and plenty of dry oak.
Balcones Single Barrel French Oak Single Malt (Barrel #15974), 64%
Single Malt American Whiskey | $80
The nose shows glorious maturity, with tropical fruits, blueberry, concord grape jelly, and pineapple soda, all mingled with wood spice, dried chile, and smoked meat. Excellent consistency into the palate, which benefits from water to tame oak tannins; juicy pineapple, guava, papaya, jackfruit, and hibiscus tea brighten up cocoa powder and chile flavors. It finishes floral and fruity, with persistent chili, chocolate, and cigar notes. Multilayered and rewarding.
Subtle and rounded smoke on the nose, balanced by lemon, grilled pineapple, and chocolate-chip cookie dough. A big, tannic, and chewy palate, chocolaty and extremely fruity—hints of Meyer lemon, grilled plums, walnut paste, and five-alarm chili wrapped in a thick, spicy smoke. A fiery finish benefits from water. Their first peated release and it’s a showstopper. (531 bottles; distillery only)
Orange blossom, tropical notes of lime, pineapple, and guava, as well as fruitcake, powdered sugar, maple syrup, and balanced oak on the nose. More tropical notes and powdered sugar follow on the palate, along with hot chocolate, roasted nuts, grain notes, pepper, and barrel char. Light tropical flavors return on a long finish interwoven with chocolate, tobacco, and barrel notes. Unconventional and intensely racy, with an intriguing, complex interplay of diverse flavors.
As American single malt ascends, Balcones shows its leadership with this triumphant offering. It’s bursting with tropical fruits—kiwi, mango, guava, jackfruit—buttressed by undercurrents of cinnamon, dried chiles, blueberry muffins, and nuts. Those juicy ripe fruits remain intense on the palate, two-stepping with cocoa powder, barrel char, roasted pecans, and black pepper; the dance sweeps into a lengthy finish of grilled pineapple, mocha, and tobacco, tapering off into bitter chocolate and oak. Balcones is putting both American single malt and the state of Texas on the map. Number 17 in the 2020 Top 20
From the first sniff, this whiskey defines itself as intense and full-flavored: candied kiwi, papaya, mango, pineapple, and jackfruit crowd out almost all other aromas, though if it sits for a while, brown sugar and pecans emerge. The palate is consistent, with plenty of tropical fruit but also cocoa powder, oak, and dry nuttiness. More pineapple, kiwi, and jackfruit on the finish, but they fade fairly quickly to allow vanilla bean and dry oak to shine.
The nose has a bright note of lime, as well as dried herbs including coriander, parsley, and dill. Bonfire smoke and charred oak are in the mix, along with rich caramel. The palate blends sweet vanilla and toffee with smoked wood, apples, peanut shells, and a peppery spice embellishing the background. The finish is dark chocolate, espresso, peanut brittle, and more charred oak, along with a lingering, pleasant cigar aftertaste.
Dried leaves, toasted nuts, and plenty of fresh oak emerge from this big, broad-shouldered malt that ably handles all the new oak that’s been thrown at it, with the solid wood structure propping up pretty orange pekoe tea, buttered toast, biscuity malt, caramel, and chocolate flavors. Finishes with dark toasted spices and anise. A distinctly oaky, American interpretation of single malt that is both bold and balanced. (5,000 bottles)
Made from roasted Hopi blue corn. The nose says bourbon—sweet, corn, faint maple—but with big notes of stone fruits. It's lush. Mouth veers off in another direction with floury corn, oaked complexity, an herbal component, like crushed stems of wildflowers, and cinnamon/allspice notes. The finish is suddenly mellow, with a seductive creaminess high in the back palate. Even at a young 50%, never really fiery. Wonderfully complex, and not over-oaked; beautiful stuff.
Though anchored in earthy and woodsy aromas of birch and soil, tropical fruits also burst forth from the glass: guava, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and jackfruit, ripe and ready to be enjoyed. They carry through to the palate, along with a touch of citrus, Cherry Coke syrup, roasted pecans, and ample spice, and are persistent into the mouth-coating finish, which counterbalances cloying flavors with charred nuts and oak.
Distilled from roasted blue corn. The spirit itself, not the grain, is smoked over Texas scrub oak. Spicy Red Vines, herbal notes, and blackened corn aromas. An initial burst of fire on the palate transforms into juicy red fruit, sweet cinnamon apple, and hints of bramble and forest floor. An unusual and polarizing whiskey, Brimstone is aggressive at first, but in the end it’s a gentle giant.
Roasted apples, cherry danish, walnuts, dark caramel, and grape jelly on the nose, with more bakery notes emerging after water is added; deep oak is prominent throughout. Tannic and chewy on the palate, which leans more bitter than sweet, with coffee beans and baking chocolate underscored by a savory ashy character. Water pulls out more dark fruit and takes the finish from rough to rounded.
Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon (Batch BCB17-1), 64.6%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $80
The concentration here is impressive, as dates and raisins meet leathery oak that smells of a dusty tack shop, joined by some lovely cinnamon, clove, and spearmint. The intensity on the rich palate is face-melting, hot, and muscular. Sweet flan, caramel corn, and vivid spice succumb to a finish built for oak lovers, drying and a bit tannic, bringing the molten sweet flavors to an end too soon.
Balcones has partnered with fellow Texan Spoetzl Brewery in the past, supplying barrels for the Shiner bock and märzen-style beers. This is its first whiskey distilled from Spoetzl beer. Its dark hue hints at an earthy, malty profile, and the nose delivers rich malt, spice, dried fruit, dried leaves, and oak. Rustic on the palate, with caramel and oak char. More malt on the finish, with water bringing out some sweetness. (6,000 bottles)
Balcones True Blue Cask Strength Corn (Batch TB17-1), 68.3%
Corn Whiskey | $80
Baking spices, pipe tobacco, vanilla, citrus peel, cardamom, dried apricots, and dates unwind on the nose, carried by plenty of fresh oak. The potent palate explodes with up-front sweetness, laced with cocoa and maduro tobacco notes, but the chest-thumping herbal oak brings it to a quick and slightly bitter finish. A splash of water brings the elements into better balance as peach syrup sweetness starts to shine.
Oddly smoky nose that grows on you — this is blue corn smoked with Texas scrub oak — you can smell burnt oak and light wreathings of corn. The first jolt is jalapeño without the heat, followed by a cornbread rush with a very light riff of smoke. The smoke builds to the finish and curls nicely around the corn. A very different whiskey experience; one I could get to like (could I try some with a plate of brisket?).
Balcones Baby Blue American Corn Whiskey (Batch 19-1), 46%
Corn Whiskey | $40
A polarizing nose of tropical fruit (papaya, mango, melon) drenched in butterscotch vies with the distinct aroma of tennis shoes on asphalt. The palate is hot, dry, and somewhat ashy, with billowing smoke, tobacco leaf, and nuttiness, undercut by lime and orange oil. Drying and oak-driven on the finish, it’s sweetened by the addition of water.
Balcones Texas Pot Still Straight (Batch 19-1), 46%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $30
Oily, earthy, and a bit vegetal on the nose, with nori, moss, caramel corn, toasted pecans, barbecue potato chips, and butterscotch haystacks. The oily-textured palate is heavy on smoky char, roasted corn and nuts, savory mesquite-cooked meat, and spearmint. On the finish, it’s all cigar wrapper, dark chocolate, mint oil, and coffee bean, with plenty of lingering char flavor.
Balcones Texas Single Malt Special Release (Batch 1182/1285), 51.2%
American Whiskey | $85
Quite dark brown in the glass, and lots of vanilla and fruit — white grapes, pear — in the nose, with a sweet, clean floral character as well; a rich nose. Vibrant with malt and vanilla in the mouth, rather hot without water, and shot through with oakspice, which dominates the finish, though the vanilla struggles through. Water helps the heat in the middle, but not the finish. Texas is pretty darned hot!