Big kudos to the great folks at Balcones for their recent barrel full of awards - and some awesome press in the New York Times:
When I first discovered this brand about 2 years ago, I never imagined how far they'd go - and how good their stuff would be. The number of honors Chip Tate (owner/master distiller) has collected over the last 6-12 months is impressive (http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/11...istillery.html)
I've had the chance to get to know Chip and visit the distillery a few times (even though it's nearly 2 hours away) over the last year or so and can honestly say he's one of the nicest, brightest guys in the booze business I've met.
Just so that this post has some practical purpose other than kudos to Chip & Balcones, here's my tasting notes on the most recent batch of Balcones Single Malt:
Nose: fruity & floral, but solid elements of baking spice. I'd never confuse this with Scotch, but clearly not a bourbon or rye. I can tell it's malt vs. corn, but just barely.
Palate: Rich, caramel bomb - loads of cloves, cinnamon and hints of tannic oak that offset the overt sweetness of the barley. Nothing cloying about it, but it's not bitter either. In many ways it calls to mind the best elements of a solid wheated bourbon, but then you get just the slightest hints of smoke and char that mingle quite differently than they would with bourbon. Mouthcoating and delicious. Very subtle tingle on the mid-palate from alcohol.
Finish: lingering and coating. The spirit won't give up. It sticks around, but doesn't overstay its welcome. Nice heat in the back of the throat (more from cinnamon or pepper than from alcohol per se).
Overall: This is what you'd expect from an American (or more importantly a Texan's...) single malt. It's rich and powerful, loaded with rich caramel, cinnamon, doughy and grainy flavors. It's not a sophisticated pour - it's got vibrancy and energy, but not to the point where a purely Scotch drinker will be turned off, but it's got enough "oomph" to satisfy even the most devout CS Bourbon drinker.
Keep up the great work, ya'll! And for those of you (like me...) who thought all craft whiskey was bad... Get some Balcones, you won't be sorry (oh - and MB Roland, McCarthys, & Corsair are all pretty good too).