It's never a dull moment at Balcones in Waco, as the Texan distiller is proving with the release of two new whiskies.
The range is gaining its first bourbon, based on the blue corn spirit used to make some of the other products in the range, but this time aged in charred new 225 litre American oak casks. This 64.5% abv spirit, bottled for the first time in March, finishes with a distinct oaky character, giving some lift to the mid-palate sweetness from the corn.
There's a small amount of the Texas Blue Corn Bourbon allocated to the UK, with a few bottles earmarked for the on-trade. In addition, we'll be seeing a few bottles of the new Staff Selection, a 62.5% single cask of Texas Single Malt, aged in Hungarian oak casks, selected by the entire Balcones team.
'Staff Selection is about rewarding our staff,' brand manager and distillery ambassador Winston Edwards told Imbibe.
Edwards, along with distillery manager Jared Himstedt, also showed us samples of some even rarer curiosities - a Texas Whisky made from corn, malt and rye, and a remarkable 100% rye whisky. The latter, in addition to some distinctly spicy rye notes, had sweet date-like fruit aromas, as well as a touch of dark chocolate on the nose. This continued to the palate, where it was joined by some sweet cereal notes.
'It's been a crazy time, but it's working itself out,' said Edwards, speaking of the dispute last year that saw Balcones' founder Chip Tate leave the company. 'Morale is higher than it's been, and we have a solid team. I don't think anyone wanted Chip to leave, but it just came to the point where there was no amicable resolution.'
Things are set to change at Balcones again soon, when production finally moves to its new facility. First announced in 2013, the move is expected to take place at the end of the year, accompanied by a significant increase in production capacity, while the original distillery will allow for even more experimentation.