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Balcones Whisky Review & Tasting Notes (2023 Guide)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Scotland is the leading producer of Single Malt whisky worldwide.

But over the years, the United States has also started producing its very own American Single Malt Whisky varieties.

With over 170 distilleries releasing American Single Malt products, Balcones is the first to produce a single malt in Texas after Prohibition.

Here’s our quick review of the Balcones Whisky expression.

All About Balcones Whisky

Man Holding Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky Bottle

Balcones are famous for their American Single Malts, the first whiskies produced in Texas since Prohibition.

“These are excellent whiskies [Balcones Single Malt]. They should appeal both to the Scotch drinker and to the bourbon enthusiast.

– Joseph V. Micallef, Keynote Speaker.

This American Single Malt brand has eight classic liquor collections, priced from $40 to $70 per 750ml bottle.

Quick Stats

Distillery Balcones Distilling
Whiskey Type & Region Single Malt Whiskies, Bourbons, and Rye from Texas, United States
Barrel Proof 92-106 proof
Mash Bill Texas wheat and rye, blue corn, and malted barley
Age At least 6 months
Average Price $40 to $70

Interesting Facts About Balcones Whisky

Origin & History

brewery

Named after the Balcones fault line located in Texas, this distillery is the first to release single malt in Texas after Prohibition.

It was founded in 2008 by Jared Himstedt and Chip Tate [1]

Balcones Distilling grew into one of Texas’ largest distilleries, which started from an old welding shop under a bridge.

How It Is Made

Some of its bottles have no age statement labels, but their spirits have been aged for at least six months.

But for their Pot Still Bourbons, it has been aged for about 24 months based on its bottle. 

These American Single Malt varieties are double distilled using copper pot stills.

Mash Bill & Alcohol Proof

Pouring Bottle of Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky

The Single Malt Whisky varieties follow the Scottish guideline of using malt grain.

Meanwhile, the bourbons and rye products do not have official statements regarding their mash bill, but Balcones usually incorporate blue corn in these varieties. 

The alcohol content of these products varies. Its basic offering has 46% ABV, while the Brimstone Smoked Whisky contains 53% ABV.

Tasting Notes

Nose

These whiskies usually have vanilla, toffee, and oaky smell with hints of overripe fruits. 

Palate

Blue corn incorporates a sweet taste to the spirits, but some varieties have smoky and fruity notes. 

Color

The color ranges from light to dark amber, with Texas Rye having a dark caramel color. 

Finish

Some varieties have a long finish accompanied by some heat and spice flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Distillery & Ownership

Balcones Distillery

The extreme temperature fluctuations in Texas, where the distillery is located, incorporate flavor and color intensity in the whiskies during the aging process [2]

In November 2022, Diageo, a giant company for alcoholic drinks and beverages, announced that it had already bought Balcones Distilling.

Its annual releases vary from Texas rum, bourbon, rye, and Single Malt.

Balcones Whiskey Collection

Baby Blue Corn Whisky

Close up Shot of Balcones Baby Blue Bottle

Baby Blue is the first and most basic offering from Balcones. It was made from Hopi blue corn, which contains more protein and a sweeter flavor than yellow corn.

This variety has a light and fresh aroma, with hints of a sugary glazed or white frosting. You would find some fruit tastes on the palate, like apricot and crisp apple.

Lineage Texas Single Malt Whisky

Balcones Lineage Bottle and a Glass

This single malt, made from Golden Promise barley, combined the process-making traditions of American and Scotch Single Malts. 

It has hints of roasted chestnuts and sweet fruit aromas, like an overripe banana and fresh peach. It surprisingly has a rich mouthfeel and more depth, with hints of brown sugar and cherry.

Texas Single Malt Whisky

Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky Bottle and a glass on top of wooden barrel

The Balcones Texas Single Malt won Best in Glass in 2012 in the United Kingdom, leading to its rise in popularity.

It has an aroma of freshly-baked banana bread, oak, and cinnamon notes, while the palate is a layer of honey, brown sugar, and toasted nuts. The Balcones Texas Single Malt finishes with milk chocolate and a hint of bitterness.

Texas Rye A Rye Mash Bill Creation

Balcones Texas Rye 100 proof Bottle and a Glass

The Rye Mash Bill of Balcones starts with a rye called Elbon from West Texas. It also includes chocolate, crystal, and roasted rye. 

This bottle is surprisingly different from most rye varieties because you would only taste rye notes upfront. The rye notes fade immediately into light citrus sweetness and caramel flavor.

Texas Pot Still Bourbon

man drinking balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

This bourbon whiskey from Balcones Distilling comes from a special combination of roasted blue corn, Texas rye, wheat, and malted barley.

It is a straight bourbon, meaning its aging period is at least 24 months using new oak barrels. 

This bottle has a perfume-like scent and hints of a floral smell. The palate is smooth and smoky, but it still has a slight burn and heat.

Tres Hombres Whisky

Balcones Tres Hombres Whisky Bottle and a Glass

Balcones Distilling worked with an American rock band, ZZ Top, to release an iconic collaborative American whiskey in 2021.

It is a blend of three grains: rye, malted barley, and roasted Texas blue corn. 

The flavor gives a maple syrup vibe and then progresses to dark chocolate hints.

There would be some smoky notes and black pepper spice at the finish, with a tiny bit of a kick.

True Blue 100 Blue Corn Whisky

Man Holding Bottle of Balcones True Blue 100 Proof Straight Corn Whisky and a Glass

The flavor profile of this liquor closely resembled a tuned-up version of Baby Blue due to its higher alcohol content and longer aging period. 

The first sniff of this whisky will give you that “punch in the face” feeling. It has hints of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Nevertheless, it’s not as sweet as the Baby Blue variety. 

Brimstone, A Smoked Whisky

man drinking Balcones Brimstone Smoked Whisky Bottle

This product is another 100% corn whisky, but it undergoes an extra proprietary process, unlike its cousins that we mentioned.

After distillation, smoke from Texas scrub oak is injected into the whisky.

Brimstone has peppery, spicy, and smoky flavors that make you either love or hate it. It is quite smooth despite the high alcohol content.

Rumble, A Curious Twist

Man Holding Bottle of Balcones Rumble A Curious Twist

Rumble’s composition and reception defy the categorization of spirit styles. It combines Texas wildflower honey, turbinado sugar, and mission figs. 

The nose has a strong wooden smell, something close to the scent of brandy.

Although it is a bit dry, there is a build-up of sweet notes in the middle, with citrus zest and vanilla flavors.

Common Balcones Whisky Prices

Type Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Baby Blue Blue Corn Whisky 750ml 46% Approx. $40-$44
Lineage Texas Single Malt Whisky 750ml 47% Approx. $40-$44
Texas Single Malt Whisky 750ml 53% Approx. $69-$70
Texas Rye A Rye Mash Bill Creation 750ml 50% Approx. $40-$43
Texas Pot Still Bourbon 750ml 46% Approx. $33-$40
Tres Hombres Whisky 750ml 50% Approx. $58-$60
True Blue 100 Blue Corn Whisky 750ml 50% Approx. $50-$55
Brimstone, A Smoked Whisky 750ml 53% Approx. $50-$56
Rumble, A Curious Twist 750ml 47% Approx. $50-$55

FAQs

What kind of whiskey is Balcones? 

Balcones is an American Single Malt. However, the company’s product line also includes rye products and bourbons. 

What is the best Balcones whisky?

Regarding complexity and depth of flavor, True Blue Corn Whisky is the best among Balcones offerings. 

Can you sip Balcones whisky neat?

Yes, you can sip Balcones whisky neat. Although it is relatively young compared to other Scotch whisky brands, it still offers a complexity of flavors for a huge fan of single malt liquors.

Key Takeaways

Founded in 2008, the Balcones Single Malt Whisky has become the leading brand of single malt in the market. 

It offers excellent whisky varieties that appeal to a wide range of American whiskey drinkers. You can drink the products neat or mix them with some famous cocktails. 

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemicallef/2019/06/02/balcones-sets-the-standard-for-texas-made-whisky 
  2. https://features.texasmonthly.com/sponsored/balcones-distilling-the-original-texas-whisky/ 

Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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