Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review - Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

This whisky is the latest permanent addition to the core whisky range of the Texan distillery of Balcones. The launch of Texas Pot Still Bourbon is the first permanent bourbon from the distillery, which has seen numerous small batch bourbons released in the past. The Texas Pot Still Bourbon is made using a mash bill of roasted blue corn, malted barley, Texas rye and Texas wheat, although the percentages of each are not revealed. This spirit, made through Balcones' bespoke copper pot stills made by Forsyth's in Scotland, has then been matured in charred new American oak barrels for 24 months.

The distillery is located in Waco, Texas and was founded in 2008. The original distillery was hand built bu the founders and was in operation until late 2015 when Balcones moved to a new facility in the centre of the city. This was formerly the Texas Fireproofing offices and was built in the 1920s. The move enabled Balcones to massively increase production to keep up with growing demand and they now distil approximately 350,000 litres per year. Balcones is now one of the most highly awarded craft distilleries in the world and was the first to produce whisky in Texas since the Prohibition period.

"We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do."
Jared Himstedt - Head Distiller at Balcones.

The Texas Pot Still Bourbon is bottled at 46% ABV (92 Proof) and will be available at the distillery in Waco and initially in the American states of California, Florida and Texas. It is then scheduled for a release in the UK and Europe later in 2019. A bottle will cost $30 US. Prices for non-American markets are yet to be announced.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep golden yellow and the nose has a freshness and vibrancy to it. There are initial aromas of fresh sawdust and oak spices, plus a pinch of white pepper and ground clove. Underneath are further aromas of honey, vanilla, toffee, tinned peaches and apricot jam with a hint of cocoa powder, gingerbread and buttered toasted bread.

On the palate this whisky has a distinct spiciness to begin with - think of charred oak, robust bittersweet cereals, toasted nuts (especially pecans and almonds), cinnamon and clove. As these soften the whisky becomes more soft and creamy, and this allows some sweeter notes to take hold. First comes some delicious notes of vanilla and creamed corn, plus honey and golden syrup. Then some fruitiness develops - imagine cooked apricots and stewed apples in particular - and further sweetness in the form of something reminiscent of marshmallow or cream soda.

The finish is long and spicy with a pleasant drying quality to it. The robust cereals and woody characteristics dominate, especially once the sweeter and fruitier elements begin to fade. A final pinch of clove and cocoa, plus a hint of sandalwood round things off nicely.

What's the verdict?
This is another fine whisky from Balcones, a distillery that continues to thrive in its new surroundings and go from strength to strength. The permanent addition of a bourbon to their range will only aid this development and continued growth in popularity. The copper pot stills, mash bill and casking have created a bourbon with incredible interest and structure. The Texas Pot Still Bourbon will surely win lots of awards like many of its stable mates. Delicious.

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