March 21, 2016

The Bottle That Does Not Exist - Balcones Texas Single Barrel

"This bottle does not exist," Winston said. 

He looked very serious. We stared each other down for a few seconds. Smoke and ice.

"Well then I definitely have to taste it!" I finally responded.

Balcones had just announced yet another round of awards for their craft distillery in Waco, Texas. This time they had taken home four titles in the 2016 World Whiskies Awards including Best American Single Malt for their Texas 1 Single Malt Whisky and World's Best Corn Whisky for their True Blue Cask Strength.  Add these to the ridiculous trophy room the Balcones has been putting together and you get a sense of the magic going on down there.

As all the good things in life tend to be, this mystery bottle was not on the menu. In fact it was hiding behind the Balcones booth at WhiskyLive a few weeks ago at Manhattan's Chelsea Piers. I got my coveted taste and eagerly took a sniff.

Balcones Texas Single Barrel Whisky 63.5%

It's no secret that Balcones is SmokyBeast's clear choice for the best American craft distillery.  Our favorite of their whiskies will always be the Brimstone with its massive smoked corn flavor. but the Single Malt and True Blue are real standouts in the realm of hand-crafted American spirits.

Balcones is also known for their special, one-off cask experiments. Brimstone Resurrection was a mind-blowing example that we got to review a few years ago. We also got to taste their single malt aged in Resurrection casks, which was awesome as well. Needless to say that I was very excited to taste this new expression.

What Is It?

The Texas Single Barrel is a blend of 51%+ corn, with the remainder being aged single malt. The mixture was blended into a 60 gallon cask and then aged for another 3 years. It's a very interesting combination. A typical bourbon would combine a majority of corn with a second ingredient of rye or wheat and only a very small proportion of malted barley. Single malt is 100% barley.  So a combination of almost equal parts corn and barley is unusual. I didn't know what to expect.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Big big big! Just as big as George T. Stagg, but with some other mystery notes. Sassafras? It starts with huge ripe corn, super char flavor, and rain water (? not sure about that last note, it might just be that it was raining during WhiskyLive, but there's a distinct mineral water scent to it).

Palate: Uber-sweet but not cloying. It's got a lot of spice - traditional spices like chili peppers, BBQ sauce, and molasses - but then also some exotic notes like cumin.

Finish: Wow!  It's like a monster corn-heavy George T. Stagg. I've definitely never had this full-flavored a whiskey from an American craft distiller before. This is a new class. The finish is flat-out ballsy, with everything you look for in a monster bourbon, but obviously a completely different animal that's very corn-forward and has none of the rye influence of Stagg.  Honestly corn whiskey has just never tasted this good. Maybe it's the profile of the corn with the backdrop and smoothness of the malt that's the secret. I don't know, but this may well be the best craft spirit I've ever tasted.



  1. Fantastic review - is or will this be available anywhere? And if you have never visited the distillery down in Waco, you absolutely should, especially with the new facility coming on line. Winston and Jared are so generous and hospitable, it's worth the trip.

    1. The release was only 150 bottles... no more left... sorry buddy :) --Winston

    2. Sad. You should make more of this!! :) No I haven't actually been down to Waco yet but it's on my short list.

  2. I home blended one to one, Baby Blue with Benromach 10 in a two ounce bottle. I plan to try this with more single malts. The combination of corn and barley does work very well.