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Balcones Whisky Review & Tasting Notes (2024 Guide)

Balcones Whisky Review

Last Updated on March 27, 2024 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 review.

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

DistilleryBalcones Distilling
Whiskey Type & RegionSingle Malt Whiskies, Bourbons, and Rye from Texas, United States
Barrel Proof92-106 proof
Mash BillTexas wheat and rye, blue corn, and malted barley
AgeAt 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

TypeSizeAlcohol ProofAverage Price
Baby Blue Blue Corn Whisky750ml46%Approx. $40-$44
Lineage Texas Single Malt Whisky750ml47%Approx. $40-$44
Texas Single Malt Whisky750ml53%Approx. $69-$70
Texas Rye A Rye Mash Bill Creation750ml50%Approx. $40-$43
Texas Pot Still Bourbon750ml46%Approx. $33-$40
Tres Hombres Whisky750ml50%Approx. $58-$60
True Blue 100 Blue Corn Whisky750ml50%Approx. $50-$55
Brimstone, A Smoked Whisky750ml53%Approx. $50-$56
Rumble, A Curious Twist750ml47%Approx. $50-$55

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of whiskey is Balcones? 

Balcones is a Texas-based distillery that produces a variety of craft whiskies.

Known for their innovative approach to whiskey-making, Balcones is particularly acclaimed for its use of unique grains, fermentation processes, and aging techniques.

The distillery has garnered attention for its commitment to creating bold and distinctive American whiskies.

What is the best Balcones whisky?

Determining the “best” Balcones whisky is subjective, as it depends on individual taste preferences. However, some Balcones expressions have received high praise from critics and enthusiasts.

The Balcones Single Malt and Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon are often highlighted for their complexity, rich flavors, and unique character.

Exploring Balcones’ diverse range allows whiskey enthusiasts to discover expressions that align with their specific palate preferences.

Can you sip Balcones whisky neat?

Yes, many Balcones whiskies are well-suited for sipping neat.

The distillery’s commitment to producing high-quality and flavorful whiskies means that their expressions often offer a smooth and enjoyable sipping experience.

Whether it’s the richness of the Single Malt or the boldness of the Texas Blue Corn Bourbon, Balcones whiskies are crafted to be appreciated on their own, allowing drinkers to fully savor the intricate flavors and nuances of each expression.

What does Balcones whiskey taste like?

Balcones whiskey boasts a diverse flavor profile across its range of expressions. The taste varies depending on the specific whiskey, but common characteristics include bold and robust flavors.

Some expressions may feature notes of rich caramel, dark chocolate, fruitiness, and a touch of smokiness, contributing to a complex and layered drinking experience that appeals to a wide range of palates.

Where is Balcones whiskey made?

Balcones whiskey is proudly crafted in Waco, Texas, at the Balcones Distillery.

Situated in the heart of Texas, the distillery embraces the state’s distinct terroir, utilizing local ingredients and drawing inspiration from the unique climate and environment to create innovative and flavorful American whiskies.

What percent alcohol is Balcones whiskey?

The alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage in Balcones whiskey can vary among different expressions.

However, like most whiskies, it typically falls within the standard range for distilled spirits, which is 40% ABV (80 proof) or higher.

Balcones’ commitment to producing bold and intense flavors often results in whiskies with slightly higher ABV, contributing to the robust character of their offerings.

What proof is Balcones whiskey?

The proof of Balcones whiskey depends on the specific expression, as the distillery produces a diverse range of whiskies with varying alcohol content.

Expressions such as Balcones Single Malt and Balcones Baby Blue typically fall within the range of 92 to 100 proof (46-50% ABV), showcasing the brand’s dedication to crafting robust and flavorful whiskies.

Which whiskey has the smoothest taste?

Determining the whiskey with the smoothest taste is subjective and depends on individual preferences. However, several whiskies are renowned for their smoothness. Examples include bourbons like Maker’s Mark and Buffalo Trace, which are often praised for their mellow profiles and easy-drinking characteristics.

Additionally, Irish whiskies, such as Jameson, are known for their smooth and approachable taste, making them popular choices for those seeking a gentle and enjoyable sipping experience.

Ultimately, the smoothness of whiskey is influenced by factors like aging, distillation methods, and the choice of grains in the mash bill.

Exploring different brands and expressions allows enthusiasts to find the whiskey that best suits their preference for a smooth and pleasurable drinking experience.

Which is the tastiest whiskey?

Determining the tastiest whiskey is highly subjective, as individual preferences play a significant role in the enjoyment of different flavors and styles.

Tastes can vary widely, with some favoring the rich sweetness of bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle or the peaty complexity of Islay Scotch whiskies such as Lagavulin.

Ultimately, the tastiest whiskey is a matter of personal preference, and exploring various expressions allows enthusiasts to discover their own favorites.

How do you pronounce Balcones whiskey?

Balcones is pronounced “Bal-cone-ees,” with the emphasis on the first syllable. The name is a reference to the Balcones Fault, a geological formation in Texas, where the Balcones Distillery is located.

Pronouncing it correctly ensures effective communication and respect for the brand’s identity.

Who owns Balcones whiskey?

Balcones Distillery was founded by Chip Tate in 2008, and he played a pivotal role in establishing the brand’s reputation for innovative and high-quality whiskies.

However, Chip Tate left Balcones in 2014, and the distillery is now owned by a group of investors. The change in ownership did not diminish Balcones’ commitment to craftsmanship and flavor exploration.

How long is Balcones aged?

The aging duration of Balcones whiskey can vary depending on the specific expression.

The distillery produces a range of whiskies with different aging periods, from relatively young releases to more mature expressions.

Some of Balcones’ whiskies are aged for several years, allowing them to develop complex flavors and characteristics that contribute to the overall quality and uniqueness of each bottling.

What does Bowmore whisky taste like?

Bowmore whisky, hailing from the Islay region of Scotland, is known for its distinctive flavor profile.

Common characteristics include a delicate balance of peat smoke, maritime influences, and a subtle sweetness. Bowmore whiskies often feature notes of brine, seaweed, citrus, and a hint of vanilla.

The peatiness is present but not overpowering, offering a well-rounded and complex taste that appeals to those who appreciate the Islay style.

The aging process in Bowmore’s seaside warehouses also imparts additional nuances, making each expression a unique exploration of Islay’s terroir and traditional whisky-making craftsmanship.

How long is Balcones Baby Blue aged?

Balcones Baby Blue, produced by Balcones Distilling in Texas, is not aged for a specific number of years like traditional aged whiskies. Instead, it is aged for a relatively short period, typically around 6 months to 1 year, in small oak barrels.

Despite its young age, Baby Blue still develops unique flavors and characteristics during the aging process, influenced by the Texas climate and the oak barrels used for maturation.

Balcones Baby Blue is known for its vibrant flavors, including notes of sweet corn, caramel, and oak, making it a distinctive and flavorful expression of Texas whiskey.

How did Balcones get its name?

Balcones Distilling takes its name from the Balcones Fault, a geological formation that runs through central Texas. The Balcones Fault Zone is known for its unique terrain, which includes cliffs, canyons, and other distinctive features.

The founders of Balcones Distilling chose the name to pay homage to the region’s natural beauty and to reflect their commitment to crafting distinctive and innovative whiskies that capture the spirit of Texas.

Why is it called whiskey?

The term “whiskey” (or “whisky” in some regions) has its origins in Scotland and Ireland, where the spirit has been produced for centuries. The etymology of the word “whiskey” is derived from the Gaelic term “uisce beatha,” meaning “water of life.”

Over time, this Gaelic term evolved into “usquebaugh” in Scotland and “usquebeath” in Ireland, before eventually becoming “whiskey” in English.

The term “whiskey” is used to refer to a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. It typically includes grains such as barley, corn, rye, and wheat, although the specific grain composition can vary depending on the style and regional regulations.

Whiskey is characterized by its aging process in wooden barrels, which imparts flavors and aromas to the spirit, as well as its distinctiveness based on production methods, aging conditions, and regional influences.

What does Balcones Single Malt taste like?

Balcones Single Malt is known for its complex and rich flavor profile, offering a unique expression of American single malt whiskey. While specific tasting notes can vary depending on the batch and aging process, Balcones Single Malt typically exhibits characteristics such as:

Rich Maltiness: Balcones Single Malt showcases a prominent malted barley character, with notes of toasted grains, biscuit, and cereal.

Fruitiness: You may detect fruity flavors in Balcones Single Malt, such as ripe orchard fruits like apples and pears, along with hints of citrus or tropical fruits.

Oak Influence: The aging process in oak barrels imparts flavors of vanilla, caramel, and spice, contributing to the whiskey’s complexity and depth.

Sweetness: Balcones Single Malt often exhibits a sweet profile, with flavors of caramel, honey, and butterscotch, balancing the maltiness and oakiness.

Subtle Smoke: Depending on the batch, you may encounter subtle hints of smoke or peat, adding another layer of complexity to the whiskey’s flavor profile.

Overall, Balcones Single Malt offers a bold and flavorful drinking experience, with a balance of maltiness, fruitiness, oak influence, and sweetness that appeals to whiskey enthusiasts.

Final Verdict: Balcones Whisky Review

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. Balcones Sets The Standard For Texas-Made Whisky
  2. What Exactly Is A Single Malt Whisky?
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