cascode

Balcones FR. OAK Texas Single Malt

American Single Malt — Texas, USA

Tasted
4.0
4.0 out of 5 stars
Nose: Deep and intense nose. Burned butter, cognac, plum pudding, baked fig and orange tart, dark almost-burnt Christmas cake. There's a note that isn't smoke but it's reminiscent of something scorched - it's vaguely like a wood-fired cooking stove. Lots of warm (but not hot) spices. With water the nose opens and shows some vanilla but most prominently it showcases the quality of the casks with an aroma of fresh, crisp well-managed barrel. Palate: A no-holds-barred arrival of strong alcohol, hefty baking spices, dark fruitcake, espresso, very dark chocolate and very strong oak tannins. Again there's that phantom almost-but-not-quite smoky presence and a hefty treacle flavour. The texture is medium. With water this whisky really shows its complexity and depth. It gains sweetness, more spice, considerably more fruitiness (of a less baked quality) and changes character in a very pleasant manner. Finish: Medium/long. Baking spices, dark chocolate and prickly baked fruit that slowly subside into a mildly oaky aftertaste. There's a little puff of aromatic smoky spice right at the end. Adding water intensifies the bitter chocolate note in the finish, considerably lengthens it, and a cereal sweetness appears. This is a big, bold and assertive whisky that is also quite stylish and certainly not a simple bludgeon to the senses. The relatively high proof is not overpowering and has surprisingly little burn. It's mellow but not soft or simple. This is more a cutlass than a club, more a cutting wit than a crude tirade. Being much more used to Scottish malt whisky the profile is a little unusual to my palate, but there are similarities. The nose in particular reminds me of very high proof sherried whisky but it has a distinctive nature. That elusive smoke thing is quite individual but at its heart the nose has the dryness of malt rather than the sweetness of corn. Like all really good noses, it keeps evolving and opening in the glass. The palate is demonstrative and has some of the characteristics of rye whisky but really it is its own thing - Texas malt. I think this is relatively young (2-3 years?) and you taste that youth, but you also sense a greater maturity than would be expected. This is a kid who grew up quick. Adding water uncovers malty notes in the palate and personally I preferred it diluted (but then I always taste high-proof whisky both neat and watered). I really enjoyed this whisky and slowly nosed and sipped it for about an hour while watching a film. I don't think there was any Australian allocation for this particular expression but other Balcones whiskies are available here for around AUS$110-140 which is quite reasonable. I must obtain more of their offerings. My thanks to @Soba45 who shared a tasting dram received from @PBMichiganWolverine. Much appreciated, good sirs. "Very Good" : 4 stars
  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @dubz480 if you’re in Dallas next week, there’s a Goody’s there that has this for $78. They don’t ship unfortunately

  • WhiskeyLonghorn

    @cascode it’s an annual release. Sometimes they ship those outside Texas and sometimes not.

  • cascode

    @WhiskeyLonghorn I've checked but the Mirador either did not have an allocation here or is sold out.

  • cascode

    Thanks for the advice, guys - it sounds like the True Blue Cask Strength might be the one to try.

  • dubz480

    @PBMichiganWolverine no worries at all! I am sure I will finds pour in Dallas! Thanks as always for your generosity!

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @dubz480 damnit...I literally just sent you a package...for some reason, I thought you tried this one already. Would’ve included a sample of this

  • dubz480

    I'll be in Dallas next week and will have to give this a try! great review as always!

  • Soba45

    They are really hit and miss in my opinion not just across different versions but even for the same one. I was heading to the US so tried a bunch and at the time they were very one dimensional artificial and forced. Think the Grove but no where near as bad. Other reviewers agreed. Them later on people raved about them and had different notes...extremely inconsistent probably due to changes in distillers and the founder getting kicked to the curb

  • jonwilkinson7309

    @cascode. I found the Baby Blue to be underwhelming. I've tried the 100 proof True Blue, which is a very nice step up. my guess is that the Cask Strength would be even better. The rye is a big bold rye, Balcones style. It is indeed unusual - I get some strong chocolate and coffee notes that remind me of Westland and Wanderback. I like the Brimstone a lot, but it's a definitely a love it or hate it polarizing whiskey. Glad to hear you liked the French Oak. I came across a bottle in a Total Wine in Florida about a month ago. Shocked to see it on the shelf, I pulled out Distiller to verify that it was a worthy purchase and read @pbmichiganwolverine 's review. I have opened it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

  • WhiskeyLonghorn

    @cascode skip the rye and baby blue. True Blue is amazing and unique. I liked Brimstone, but it is an acquired taste. They smoke the distillate rather than the grains prior to mashing.

  • WhiskeyLonghorn

    @cascode I found the regular single malt a little too much. They do a special release called “Mirador”, which is their single malt in refill barrels, and it’s delightful.

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @cascode I’ve only tried 3: Balcones “1” single malt, Brinstone, and Rye. I didn’t like the first two. The Rye was very good, quite different from a typical rye.

  • cascode

    @PBMichiganWolverine My preferred supplier ahs the following available. Which, if any, would you recommend? Texas 100 proof rye, Baby Blue Corn, True Blue Cask Strength, 1 Special Release Single Malt, Brimstone Texas Scrub Oak Smoke Corn. Anyone else with experience of Balcones, please feel free to advise as well. Cheers!

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    This was my favorite, by far, of all the Balcones releases. A bit harder to acquire, but worth it. The only American whiskey I liked more than this was Del Bac Dorado, which had similar smoked profile