The Balcones Distiller’s Selection Private Barrel Tour Tweet Tasting

The Balcones Distiller’s Selection Private Barrel Tour Tweet Tasting

I’m a lucky bugger. Since getting into Whisky two and a half years ago, thereabouts, I’ve been really fortunate to get picked for several tweet tastes. I’ve missed a few, but can’t be lucky all the time. 🙂

Tonight I consider myself supremely lucky to be able to be involved in this Balcones Distiller’s Selection Private Barrel Tour Tweet Tasting. 5 of some of the rarest young Whisky, from in my opinion the most interesting, and surprising distillery operating worldwide. Every time I visit a Balcones stand at a Whisky show I am always amazed by the flavour sensations I’m hit with.

Tonight, I’m hoping once again to be surprised, enlightened and thoroughly entertained by Chip Tate and his amazing wares. Here we go.

These are now near impossible to purchase as whole bottles, but samples can be purchased from Master of Malt here:

1. Balcones Rumble Cask Reserve

58.5%ABV

Nose.

Sweet citrus fruit. Berries. Fruitcake. I would swear this a heavily sherried maturation, but it’s not at all. Thick with honey and Demerara sugar. Caramel. Wood shavings, like a carpenters workshop. Stewed bananas. With time, more citrus coming through, stewed apples, spicy vanilla, all sorts of everything. It’s so very complex.

Palate.

Very sweet, rum like. Powerful, but still easy drinking. Rich berry fruit, spicy vanilla custard, the mouthfeel is very viscous. Reminiscent of a spicy fruit crumble with thick home made custard. Chocolate notes are there in the development intermingling with oranges. Again, so much towards a very heavily sherried Whisky, but different and more complex!

Finish.

Surprisingly long, sweet, honey, toffee, chocolate, drying out with light oak, but all the dark berry fruit crumble with custard is very well retained.

With water.

On the nose the diluted version is softer, but with take-your-breath-away spice. The palate is very much concentrated on the spices and oak now as opposed to the fruit. The finish is also about the spice. Adding some more water. Further diluted the palate is overwhelmed with the fruity elements, softer yes, mouthfeel less luxurious, but the fruit is exploding, very special indeed.

2. Balcones 5th Anniversary Bourbon, Second Singe Cask Release

65.7%ABV

Nose.

Burnt fruitcake. Christmas pudding. Buckets of vanilla. Intense. Nasally invading. Oak leather, tobacco, clove. Buttery creaminess, dusting of cocoa. Treacle toffee, some light pleasant glue notes, aniseed. With time there is some fried orange notes, some donut mix just hitting hot fat, it’s really quite awesome. It’s a drowning nose, you could sniff this for hours and hate the smell of oxygen afterwards.

Palate.

Oh my god the mouthfeel! It’s the oiliest, thickest, viscous I think I’ve ever tried, and that hits you straight square in the gob. So much so I forgot to taste the first sip. Sweet liquorice, fruitcake, burnt oranges, complex spices, toffee, chocolate, fattening, Christmas pudding. Smooth considering the high ABV. Dammit it’s bloody good.

Finish.

Sweet vanilla, complex spices, aniseed, sweet liquorice. Concentrated dark fruit.

With water.

The beast has been tamed a little. The nose is softer, more integrated and has an additional smoothness to it. Some added creaminess is evident, along with some buttered popcorn. The palate is sweeter, stick very thick in the mouth, with added juiciness to the fruit elements and such an easy drinker. The finish is refreshing, sweet, delectable. Should have bought one dammit.

3. Balcones Straight Malt, Finished in Rumble Cask Reserve Cask

57.5%ABV

Nose.

Stewed soft fruit. Banana, light oranges, fruit salad, light biscuit, fudge, cream caramel, Jamaican Ginger cake. With time in the glass it’s more buttery and creamy but always retaining the cake spice. Most excellent.

Palate.

Another quality mouthfeel. Fruit is juicy. Dark fruits, fruit cake, warming, hugging, cream, vanilla, pepper, spicy and thick. Cherry stones. Some flat coca cola. Caramel sweetness to the extreme.

Finish.

Warming, and reliable. Definite feel good factor on this one. Sweet, cola, ginger, clove, pepper, fruitcake, vanilla, ending with sweet oak chips.

With water.

On the nose we have more of a fruit stew, more floral, a deep and resonating nose now, the palate reflects the stew of fruit, cherries are now more mashed and flavoursome, and the finish is calming and seductive for another sip.

4. Balcones Straight Malt, Finished in a Brimstone Resurrection Cask

58.3%ABV

Nose.

Another massive nose to rival a lying Pinocchio. Creamy cereal, pepper, less intensive spice to the other drams tonight, more complimentary. Some smoke, but not an awful lot, more of a background char. Floral, crushed Parma violets, toffee, cream, some savoury, maple honey pork sausages overdone on a BBQ.

Palate.

Surprisingly smooth, very smooth. Sweet and savoury. The initial sweet blast is recovered by a savoury tang, Some BBQ, and a little smokiness, but the spicy vanilla retains it’s presence and is joined with some burnt fruit, then the burnt wood comes back and it is burnt, and flavoursome, with sweetness in the form of honey soaked into that flaming embers. Some plain chocolate, a little saltiness and maybe a chilli or two in that chocolate block. Off balanced with some sweet meaty notes. Quite a nice balance of these flavour profiles with none really overpowering the other.

Finish.

Rich, burning meat on a BBQ. Chocolate. Thinning out to spicy vanilla pods, some fried potato chips, drying sweet oak, and general all round pleasant feelings!

With water.

The nose has a little more savoury to it, some extra floral and a little more brimstone bacon smoke going on. The palate is more concentrated on the sweet honey notes, with some smoke concentration mid-development, going into a intensely satisfying smokey juice of a finish.

5. Balcones Brimstone Resurrection

60.3%ABV

Nose.

I’ve said this many time, it’s the first thing that hit me the first time I tried Brimstone, walker’s Smokey Bacon Crisps. Stunning! All savoury, dry, burning barbecue charred embers, burnt bacon meat (not the fat). A little hay. Chilli and pepper. This infused smoke is intriguing. There are touches of rubber on hot road, but the BBQ and smoke is fully embracing my senses.

Palate.

BBQ bacon with ample sugar/honey infusion. Quite a sweet peat note as well. Grass, hay, deeply burnt brown sugar, intense, salty, savoury, very different to anything tasted before. Some dark fruity notes, dates, figs, chewy, very chewy.

Finish.

Charred embers with some bacon meat still burning away. Some salt, sweetness from peat that isn’t peat. A little earthy tang. Quite special indeed.

With water.

So very savoury. The nose now has a little more salted bacon and less char going on. Lots of dusty wood and spiciness. The palate is lighter, creamier, more corn, popcorn, corn husks, caramelled corn, buttered sweetcorn. Much corn! The finish is sweet and salty…popcorn… This is a very unique and from its production, unrepeatable dram. Honoured.

Conclusion.

Wow, I’m warm now. What an absolutely amazing night. My favourite has to be the second release of the 5th anniversary bourbon, with the rumble cask finished straight malt coming a very close second place. But all of the drams were so close together, they really are fantastic. Unfortunately availability is an issue, but I am so very happy to have had the opportunity to try these. Thank you so much to Chip Tate and Balcones for doing what they do and Steve Rush (www.thewhiskywire.com) for organising. Thanks guys. 🙂

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