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Balcones Brimstone

Average score from 5 reviews and 5 ratings 88

Balcones Brimstone

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Balcones Brimstone

Quick fire notes.

I liked it, big flavours but well matched.

Nose: cold bbq, smoked meat, dried chilli flakes, burnt caramel Palate: vanilla, pepper, bonfire smoke, burnt rubber, orange Finish: long, spiced dryness, warming

Overall a lovely dram that is a bit different.


Up until a few months ago I had not heard of Balcones Distillery. The brainchild of Texan Chip Tate this micro-distillery is only six years old and has already won a Confederate pickup worth of awards including a WWA for it's Brimstone Resurrection bottling.

After managing to get hold of the award-winning sample I decided this micro-distillery was far too exciting to just pass up after one experience. They have around seven expressions all of which are under two years of age. Using mainly blue corn for distillation the unique spirit is smoked with sun baked Texas Oak giving it it's signature charred barbecue pit flavor.

Balcones Brimstone is made with 100% blue corn and matured for just under two years in American Oak but only after it's undergone a thorough Texas oak smoking. My bottle is from Batch BRM14-1 bottled on January 22, 2014 at a lovely 53%.

NOSE : So unique. I have not nosed a whisky this different. Sweet diesel. Cinnamon. Garam Masala. Charred oak. Bitter chocolate. Red chilis. Barbecue pit. Burnt caramel. Digestives. Jute bag full of husky grains. Imagine sitting in the desert around a campfire.

PALATE : Medium bodied. Red chilis. Bitter chocolate. Sour cherries. Smoked oak. Dried tobacco. Bitter marmalade. Red win tannins. Leather. This is quite an intense delivery with the red chili leading the way. Sadomasochistically delicious.

FINISH : Long. Herbal. Minty. Lots of wood. Husk.

I'm a sucker for anything out of the ordinary. Be it a creative process or unusual taste. And if something has both then it's got me.

Can't wait to get through the other expressions.


I had never heard of Balcones Distilling until they won the WWA 2014 award for best American Whiskey. While I'm not a big fan of awards this time around I'm grateful to them for bringing this Texan distillery on to my radar.

When you think of Texas you don't think of whisky. And, frankly, the only thing I know about Waco, Texas (where the distillery is located) is that a certain madman by the name of David Koresh burned down a ranch along with a lot of people.

Luckily now I will begin to associate Waco, Texas with pretty awesome whiskey. So thanks to Balcones for that.

Started only five years ago Balcones is the lovingly built brainchild of a certain Mr Chip Tate - can't get any more Texan than that! Hand-built pot stills and a unique smoking method are responsible for this unique tasting corn whiskey.

Legend has it that one fine day Chip managed to burn a heck of a lot of corn at the bottom of his stills. Rather than throw it away he decided to use it. But not before he subjected it to his rather unique method of smoking the spirit with Texas Scrub Oak and then aging it in heavily charred barrels.

The result is the award-winning Brimstone Resurrection (get it?) that can only be described as a raging Texas campfire.

Nose: Completely scorched! Burnt leather. Dry barbecue meat. Clove. Ginger. Nutmeg. All spice. Cigar box. Let it breathe and it gets sweeter. Molasses. Baby ginger. Figs. Spicy Fruitcake. Cherry cough drops. All treated to that heavy Texan oak smoke. Wicked.

Palate: Seriously intense. Very woody cocoa. Peppers. Fruitcake. Java coffee beans. Nutmeg. Dry fruits. Figs. Raisins. All charred. All smoked. All fantastic.

Finish: Long with herbs. Wood. Cocoa. And did I mention smoke?

Powerful dram that is only three years old with a limited run of around 155 bottles so count your self lucky if you have one of these bad boys.

I've not tried any of the other Balcones offering but you better be sure I'm going to.

@Pierre_W, the whisk(e)y world is huge and getting larger all of the time. The "norm" is what is known, familiar, and/or available in a given geographical area. That varies enormously from place to place. If you lived in Canada, for example, Canadian blended whisky would most likely be your 'norm'. Most Canadian whisky drinkers drink Canadian whisky, not Scotch. If you live in Europe, Canadian whisky probably seems pretty remote. Even in the US where there is a massive amount of Canadian whisky sold, we are mostly out of luck trying to buy the best Canadian whiskies, and have to travel to Canada if we wish to do so.

The world of whisky is changing a lot, globally, and mostly outside of Scotland. Personally, I see that those changes are coming so quickly, and there are so many new distilleries being opened, that it would take something approaching a full-time whisky career just to keep up with it. As an example, not so many years ago there were no barley-malt whisk(e)y distilleries in the US. Now there are dozens.

Would I like to taste them all? Yes, I would like to taste all the whiskies in the world, and especially a lot of Central and Northern European whiskies-- which are not sold here...but that is a tall order, and I will appproach that goal at a pace which remains enjoyable to me.

@Victor, fully agree with your assessment, the whisk(e)y world is indeed getting bigger and larger all the time. While I am quite familiar with the Japanese whisky landscape, North America in particular harbours many malts that are wholly unknown to me and many of them will most likely remain so. I'll do my best to continue the voyage of discovery across all continents - which is why reviews like the one above are so valuable. Slainte!


Balcones is a Texan distillery that became a rising star overnight, it would seem. Their Brimstone is a smoked corn whiskey, created in a process in which the whiskey itself is smoked and not the corn at the beginning of the process. I am not sure how that works, to be honest, but the name brimstone is somewhat self-explanatory, I suppose. This Balcones already accumulated quite some prizes.

The nose is rife with sulphur at the start, but not that much that it becomes bad. I am thinking about inflatable armbands. Next I get some aromas that I can only associate with a typical Texan barbecue. Marinated ribs in A1 Steak Sauce, an American top notch BBQ sauce. Hints of broth, celery salt and a ham. This umami nose is couterfooted by some sweet notes of raisins and some candied sugar. But let us be clear: the smoky, herbal, almost salty notes dominate.

It is quite oily and herbal on the palate. The feeling of broth continues. But this is immediately followed by some very sweet elements, like BBQ sauce and a hint of chocolate. The smokiness is much more prominent. It is also nicely spiced with thyme and pepper.

The finish takes me right back to a veritable barbecue. Not just a peppery piece of steak, but also the dying coals.

Yes, this is interesting and certainly worth trying, but 94 point by Jim Murray? That guy has lost his marbles.

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