Balcones is a Texas based whisky distillery, doing all sorts of whiskies: Bourbon, Single Malt, Rye, Corn… They don’t take themselves seriously and don’t bother with regularity about ABV, taste or whatever. They do what they want, how they want, whenever they want. Let’s hope that now that Diageo bought Balcones, they won’t castrate the spirit (pun intended) and let them continue going free. In the mean time, Archives, the indy bottler branch of the famous whisky database and online shop Whiskybase, bought a few casks from 2017 and bottled them in their Venomous Snakes series, so let’s try one of those three Balcones 2017 from Archives.
Balcones 2017 Archives Review
As I said, there are three casks, all single malts, and bottled separately as three different releases, of Balcones 2017. One of them was bottled at 3-year-old, and the other two at 4-year-old. The one we’re trying is the three -year-old. It’s a single malt taken from an American oak first fill barrel #19264 and bottled at cask strength, at the not-for-the faint-of-heart ABV of 62.9%. 195 bottle were filled from that cask, without chill filtration nor addition of colouring.
Neat: Intense! The high ABV is really noticeable. But nonetheless, you can smell there are lots of things going on. The nose starts great with lots of cherries and other red fruits like strawberries and raspberries. Those fruits are followed by wood polish, but also cake filled with raisins and candied fruits, intermingling with molten caramel on marshmallows. It’s going to need some water now if I want to go deeper without burning my nose.
With water: the wood polish and just plain wood notes get stronger.
Neat: Sirupy arrival, a bit drying, and not too burning, but still quite intense. The palate makes me think a bit of a young cask strength virgin oak Bimber by the mouthfeel and some of the flavours. Fudge intertwine with butterscotch and molten caramel poured on a chocolate cake, but also thick woody notes. Quite easy to sip despite the ABV.
With water: As it did for the nose, water brings a bit more wood polish
Those woody notes mixed with caramel and cake with raisins linger on for quite a long time, letting a nice warmth in the throat.
Impressive whisky at such a young age. The alcohol is quite present without ruining the experience. It’s showing a nice balance even though the wood was quite active. The fact that it made me think of a Virgin oak Bimber at cask strength says a lot, as I adore that whisky. Excellent stuff.
Thank you Eraldo! Pictures stolen from Whiskybase (sorry guys 😉 )