Type: Single Malt Whiskey
The American craft whiskey phenomena is in full swing. The uptick in demand for whiskeys over the past ten years has encouraged hundreds of amateur enthusiasts to quit their day jobs to pursue a dream of making the perfect American whiskey. While this has led to an unprecedented variety of new and exciting brands, the craft industry operates on such a small scale that tasters are sometimes left with an underwhelming and overpriced product. On the other hand, every now and then the craft industry yields something truly remarkable — a whiskey made by an entrepreneur with a passion for his product, the technical know-how to made it good, and the creativity to create a whiskey which both acknowledges the American tradition and pushes beyond it. Balcones is one such whiskey.
Aroma: Light smoke and toasted overtones throughout. Upon opening, slight citrus flavors are revealed; pear and banana.
Pallet: Very sweet and full-flavored, some spice in the middle taste with an extremely bold finish. Finish leaves a thick, molasses style coating on the tongue which stays for a minute or two. Toasted flavors and burnt sugar carry the aroma through to the pallet.
Michael: There are far too many whiskeys on the market which simply lack identity. They leave me wondering, especially with the craft market, why the entrepreneur decided to start a distillery. Balcones establishes an identity from the first sip. It is uniquely American and uniquely regional. The spice leaves no question that this is a product from the southwest without hiding the smoothness and caramel I would expect from an American product. This whiskey is simply well-done and very enjoyable. My one argument might be that its price point pushes a little too close to some of the great Scotches, but the economics behind small batch whiskey are not going to change anytime soon.
Andrew: With its history of awards I had high hopes for the Balcones Special and I was not disappointed. The spicy aroma and taste brings with it an interesting mix of flavors. Adding little more water than usual, though, is necessary because of the high alcohol content of this whiskey.
Verdict: Fixed Stars, the level of Paradiso.