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Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky

Average score from 9 reviews and 10 ratings 77

Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky

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@MaltActivist
Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky

I remember tasting my first Balcones. It was the Brimstone Resurrection. Quite possibly the most fiery and powerful whisky one can have. Massively smoked and audaciously spicy it was a no-holds barred attack of the senses.

And I loved it!

Chip Tate, the man behind the distillery, was a true innovator using techniques and ingredients only he could think of. Sadly his association with his own distillery was short-lived thanks to a rather public spat with the other board members. He left soon after and is now working on producing spirit for his own Tate Distillery.

Before he left, though, he conjured up this rather unique little expression. Using tiny 235 gallon copper stills, all hand-made at the distillery, this spirit is twice distilled and then aged in five gallon oak barrels making this quite the craft distillers' whisky.

But the key to the flavor is the rather unique Baby Blue Corn used to extract the spirit. After trying multiple varieties of corn Chip settled on the roasted Hopi blue corn and has, in my opinion, managed to put together quite a unique little whisky.

My pour is from a 30ml sample from the chaps over at Master of Malt and served at 46% ABV

Quite malty at first. Hops. Fruity too. Papaya. Chocolate. Jack fruit. Pepper. Buttered corn. Gets sweeter after a bit. Vanilla. Toffee. Ground coffee. Worn leather. Spices. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Let it sit and the maltiness goes away. More crisp now. Not bad. I like it. 22/25

Nice weight. Tropical fruit. Oak. Touch of smoke. Spice. Cinnamon. Burnt brown sugar. Bubble gum. Bubble gum? Green tea. Hint of lime. I think this palate needs a little getting used to. Definitely an acquired taste because the few people I've asked absolutely hated it. But I have this thing for anything just off the beaten path and this does it for me in some way. 23/25

Medium. Leather. Cinnamon. Quite savory. 22/25

If you know me you know that I go out of my way to look for the weird, the unusual, the stuff that questions the status quo. And I think I may have found it in this whisky. Is it spectacular? No, of course not. But there's just something alluring about it that I can't put my finger on.

@maltmate302 @MaltActivist, I haven't yet tried the Nikka Coffey Malt. I do look forward to it, though.

I am looking forward to hearing your observations on the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky. That one has this sort of silky chocolate-y thing going on which is different from every other corn whisky I've tried. I don't know why they call it "grain" if the only grain in it is corn. I do not taste any wheat in the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky. If it had wheat, the wheat would take over. Clarity is good. If it is corn whisky, then just call it corn whisky. I hold no reverence whatsover for obscure anachronistic conventions of Scottish whisky nomenclature. In my book it is way past time to deep six a number of those ridiculous traditional Scottish labels. Clarity should be the guiding principle.

@MaltActivist, I don't recall an acidic aftertaste from any of the Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky which I have had. I think I would have remembered that. I'll have to go back and re-taste some more from my sister's bottle of that one.

I found the first bottle of Nikka Coffey Grain from which I sampled, at a restaurant, to be phenomenal, and a whisky I would have rated about 92-94 points. The bottle my sister has has not seemed just the same to me and a bit lesser, though also good. I think I reviewed it around 87 points.

I am beginning to wonder whether there is a lot of variation in the batches of this one.

@PMessinger
@SquidgyAsh

I'm starting to plan an American whiskey tasting for our club in Perth and being the odd man I am, I want a variety. I don't want to do an American tasting based around just bourbons and ryes, I want single malts, corn whiskies and anything else cool.

With that in mind I gave the guys at H & R Craft Beverages, the importers of Balcones, a call about purchasing some samples. A week later those samples arrived.

Balcones is the first whiskey to be legally distilled in Texas, and tends to be corn whiskies instead of bourbon and ryes. The first whiskey to be tasted is Balcones Baby Blue, which is the entry level whiskey, made with Atole, a roasted blue corn meal.

In fact most of the whiskies in the Balcones range are corn whiskies, which makes me excited as variety is the spice of life!

The nose is young and spritely with the corn immediately evident! My wife, brother in law and myself all blinked when we immediately picked up corn on the nose.

Corn, creamed corn, popcorn, toffee, bananas, toasted oak, and vanilla make it a nice and refreshing nose.

Time for a taste!

Baked apples, bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, caramel, slight smoke and hints of corn make up the palate.

Very tasty whiskey!

A surprisingly long sweet finis ends this whisky, with the caramel and vanilla seeing it through to the end.

This is a no age whisky, but I strongly suspect it's less then 5 years old and that's not a bad thing as those who know me will tell you, in fact it's an awesome thing.

This whisky is very smooth, a term that I honestly hate with whisky, but it's true. There's no harshness that so many folks associate with young whiskies. It just goes down so easily.

This Balcones normally retails for around $130 Aussie from everything I've been able to dig up, which isn't a bad price to pay for something a little bit different, but I don't think I'd ever use this whiskey as my normal every day session whiskey.

However now I'm REALLY interested in playing with the more advanced whiskies in the Balcones range!

@SquigyAsh, good to see that you can get some Balcones products in Perth, Australia. When you get the opportunity, try the high-test version, Balcones True Blue at around 61% abv. That's the one I recommend in their Blue Corn line. Balcones does a lot of things very well, and very much including their malt whiskey. Everyone I've ever seen try the Balcones malt likes it a lot.

Starting from Baby Blue, the Balcones products just get better.

Interestingly, your review reads much better than the score you have given it. I'm very hit and miss on Balcones products. I enjoyed their single malt and I think it was their anniversary bourbon? But this one I wasn't crazy about...

@DanielMencher

Originally published at The Nice Drinks In Life: thenicedrinksinlife.blogspot.com/2013/08/…

Producer: Balcones Distillery Name: Baby Blue Type: Corn Whiskey Mash: Blue Corn (Atole) Region: Texas, USA ABV: 46% Serving: In a standard whiskey glass, neat

My aunt lives in Dixon, New Mexico. It is a small town sloped gently along some foothills of the Rockies, abutting the eastern bank of the Río Grande between Taos and Santa Fe. Dixon has one road, two wineries, a cafe, open walking trails that rank among the most scenic in the country, and that rare simultaneity of frequent hospitality with zero crowds. It is, without a doubt, a New Yorker's perfect getaway.

Another of Dixon's rightful boasts is its locally grown produce. "Large" farms and individual gardens alike are absolutely everywhere, and the people there lack for nothing when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. One delight to which my aunt introduced me on my first visit there was a grain that she called atole. I could not help but remark, amusedly, that the hot cereal she was making from it was blue. "Isn't oatmeal supposed to be tan or something, tía?"

Shame on my younger self! Shame on me now, for ever having been such a foolish child! First and foremost, it was not oatmeal at all; it was cornmeal. It is common in the Southwest to prepare ground blue corn, or atole, into a hot cereal for breakfast, and one mouthful will make quite clear why. To describe its unique flavor is a bit difficult, like describing what turkey tastes like, or what a strawberry tastes like; how can just using words possibly meet such a task? But I can tell you that it is a rich, energetic, giving grain. It is not sweet, but to eat it satisfies a demand for sweetness. It is savory, and fulfilling, like a hot piece of chicken or a crisp, lush apple. Atole was far and away the best hot cereal I had ever tasted, and remains so to this day. Whenever I visit, I ask for it daily; and whenever my dear aunt comes to New York, I beg her to bring me a couple of bags of the Dixon-fresh delicacy (which she is, of course, kind and loving enough to do).

While we are at it, there is another "shame on me" item over here: shame on me for never having considered that atole would make a dynamite whiskey. I say dynamite not only because it tastes great, which it does, but also because it is a vibrant spirit, with the flavors ebbing and flowing about, and a spiciness adding its own degree of kinetics. At least, that seems to be the case with Baby Blue from Balcones Distilling.

First, a note about Maysville, the whiskey bar in Manhattan at which I sampled the spirit. It is only fair to mention this, but I do so eagerly: the servers there are both knowledgeable and patient, to great degrees. They were out of one or two other items that I had wanted to try, and the poor young lady offering me suggestions was met with more than a couple of interruptions and refusals, not at all due to the inadequacy of the whiskey being offered, but simply because I was being more picky and fickle than any mere mortal has the right to be. (A fourth "shame on me," and by far the most shameful.) Still, her confidence and fluency with whiskey won me over, and soon enough I was coaxed to try the Balcones Baby Blue, made in Texas. And I am very glad indeed that it worked out that way.

The whiskey has a deep, rich amber color to it. It looks syrupy to the eye, though it is actually of a standard viscosity. It shimmers in the glass cleanly, smoothly, calmly, as though it enjoys the movement but is no hurry about it at all. Of course, this glimpse of inner tranquility shares a trait with many other sights: it is deceiving.

The nose is piquant; not overbearing, but powerful. The notes are a grand conglomeration of toasted confections and related aromas: toffee, toasted caramel, maple, molasses, black tea, and vanilla. The piquancy and the sweetness are opposites that attract quite nicely, though after a little while, the nose does mellow out some, which is just as well.

The palate contains some varied hints of smoke, but not such that deliver a burned quality to the whiskey; it is more, naturally enough, like a toasted type of thing. I noticed right away that it is spicy. Some of the toasted caramel notes remain, as do the black tea and vanilla; added is popcorn. Halfway through, the sweetness emerges as the principle theme, and distinct notes of toasted caramel and toffee also appear.

However, the spice has by no means subsided. The sweetness may grow to define the body of the whiskey, but the spice is its spirit. It is not spice in the sense of picante cuisine, and it is not an herbal spice. It is, rather, a piquancy of both the alcohol and what I am comfortable assuming to be the local terroir, resulting in a play of the drink about the mouth. Quite as in the nose, the spice and sweetness get along real well on the palate; they float and shimmer and undulate around and through each other simply, basically, easily - and they do so right through the finish, which lingers for a long two seconds.

The result is a delicious, dynamic whiskey that is sophisticated without being complicated; rugged without being harsh; and sweet without sacrificing spice. Quite like the state from which it hails. Have a dram or two this evening, and enjoy.

@Wills

I was really looking forward to taste my sample of one of the Balcones range. The Baby Blue is a Small Batch Blue Corn (100% Corn). I got Batch #10, which was bottled at 26.8.2010.

To confuse you a bit I start with the palate. Nice sweetness and buttery corn. A slight bitterness which goes well with the sweetness and some spices (pepper, nutmeg). The body is medium, you can see some viscous legs in the glass.

Now let's face the special part of this dram. The nose! It offers an extremely ugly fatty sweetness. Corn, corn and again corn! There is a sourness which might be normal for blue corn. I have no clue, because we aren't the big corn eaters here in Germany I guess (at least I am not). Maybe that's also a reason why this nose is off-putting me somehow, it is just too much for my nose... To be honest, when I first smelled it from the tiny sample bottle it was very interesting. But from a glencairn and nosing as usual (nose directly in the glass) I really had to concentrate that I am not getting ill. After a while I can smell behind the distinct corn but there isn’t that much. Small dose of woodsmoke, caramel and grass.

The finish is very soft and mellow which I didn’t expect after that nose. It fades away really fast. So the finish is very short, nearly watery.

Weird dram - weird review, I know. I have no idea whether the True Blue is more balanced, most here seem to enjoy it quite a lot. The review of @vanPelt left my mouth watering. Maybe it's really because I am not used to these kind of flavors. And I tasted it the first time tonight. Let's see if I like it more in a retasting... but for the moment it is very unbalanced and not really for my pure enjoyment: For me it's like a real baby, crying and stinking in one second and the cutest bundle of joy in the next.

n

Nose: Rather dusty from the start and also smoky, which is followed by a sourness. The corn is obvious and flits between what you'd expect corn meal for tortillas to smell like and slightly sweet cornbread. The sour note has a high-pitch sweetness to it, somewhere between mezcal and a light rum's fruitiness. Vanilla and salt take charge of the spices, and cardomom and allspice fall behind.

Palate: Surprisingly rich and smooth on entry. Honey and a slightly grain whisky-esque bitterness. More dry corn. Vanilla, caramel, and dry tortilla chips. It's very dusty and has some smokiness to it - less like a Springbank and more like a very dry, light, and plain BBQ (not mesquite or BBQ sauce - definitely Texas pit BBQ style).

Finish: Not the longest or most complicated, more on corn mash, tortilla, porridge, corn bread, and sweet smoky notes. Really liked this as a change of pace.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and reviews and tasting notes had been all over the place for it. Balcones really seems to have people who adore it (Paul Pacult, for instance, gave it 5-stars), others found it weak, odd, or lacking. For its age, one might expect it to have the qualities of new-make whiskey aged in very small barrels, but it's nothing of the sort. It's been diluted a bit, but you don't get the feeling that it's watery, like many a Cognac I've had. The sourness is a bit odd, and not like the 'cherry' sort of flavor that many bourbons have from the oak, nor the bitterness in some brandies. Still, it's a 100% blue corn mash, and the corn is obvious. It's a different corn than is used in bourbon and most whiskies, so the profile is a bit different, and it's all on corn based goods and products. I'm not sure that it'd be an every day drinker or how it ages in the bottle, but it's nice from time to time.

A lot of people like Baby Blue, and a lot of others not so much. Baby Blue has never impressed me much. Its high test undiluted sister product, True Blue, on the other hand, is one which I just like more and more and more every time I try a sample.

Nice review @numen. Very special, 100% corn whiskey. I might get a sample soon. Do you know how long this gets matured?

@Mountrain

I got a light taste of liquorice root followed by a strong sour note and a burn which breaks down into an after taste of vanilla. The oilyness of it gives me an aftertaste ever so slightly of vanilla ice cream.

Its unique, and beats all the usual American brands you get for sale here in the UK. You can tell some thought has gone into it, instead of the usual mass produced stuff pumped out from the US - take note Kentucky Mellow Corn

Hopefully a few more US brands can get some ideas from this classy Texan example

P

As the other reviewer mentioned, Texas-based Balcones uses a New Mexico-sourced blue corn for their mashbill. I enjoyed the True Blue, but what about the younger Baby Blue?

This is a well made whiskey! I think the big bourbon guys could take a lesson or two from the little guy Balcones. I'm impressed how this dram brings out the graininess of corn, without overwhelming the palate with Karo syrup sweetness (which alas, many bourbons succumb).

On to the tasting notes: the nose, oh that nose. This is the first corn whiskey I've sampled that actually smells like corn! Perhaps the NM blue corn contributes, perhaps its an early cut in the distillation, but this is a nose unlike anything else: corn ears, some salt sprinkled on top; you could be smelling a freshly opened bag of Corn Nuts! Or fritos! Junk food whiskey?

The palate is smooth & oily. Could that be olive oil + some balsamic I'm tasting? Loads of baked bread, with some more of that trace saltiness. The finish doesn't surprise: some sulfurs and feints (linen notes), and yet more cereals: baked bread, sesame bread, with just a trace of sweetness, like extra dark maple syrup.

This is good stuff. Love the corn chip nose!DrinkSpirits.com also liked it: "a warm and inviting whiskey that stands heads and shoulders above almost every young whiskey we’ve tried."

Had my dram with bbq baked bean & grilled sausage. A wonderful marriage.

@finski145

Xmas is nice when you can get nice presents and get to taste them :-) I just got to taste a newcomer in state of Texas from Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas. They have made Balcones BabyBlue Texas Corn Whisky. It is made from roasted Atole, a Hopi Blue corn meal. First the nose is somewhat sweet vanilla/oak, with whiff of flour. You know when smell corn Masa flour. The palate is little bit nutty and flour. It rounds up to have sweetness at the end. After a sip of this, you can not help but think Tequila too.

BTW: They say that this is not really a bourbon, but a TEXAS corn whisky.

This distiller is also planning to release a traditional single malt and peaty single malt, made the Texas way soon. I can hardly wait what they will make.

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