Balcones Tasting at Trinity Hall Pub

Balcones CollectionTrinity Hall hosted a tasting of the collection of whiskeys from Balcones Distilling in Waco, TX. Chip Tate, master distiller, and Winston Edwards, brand ambassador, were both present. As we progressed through the entire collection, Chip gave some insight into the history and details of each one. It was thoroughly enjoyable (Mark and Ken were great company, as well as our new friend, Terry, from Cedar Hill) and each of the whiskeys was very good in its own right. The highlights of the evening were a tasting of Balcones 5th Anniversary Texas Straight Bourbon (only a single barrel produced), then (on the “down low”) a sample of Brimstone Resurrection with a complimentary Balcones-labeled Glencairn whisky glass (thanks, Chip!). The latter could quite possibly be the best whisky I’ve tasted. I’ll let you know when I get a bottle. đŸ˜‰

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon (6 Year)

Single Barrel Bourbon
(Barrel 1307, Bottle 140/192),
6 Years, 61.3% ABV, $40

This bottle was from a barrel selected by Spec’s Wine & Spirits, Houston, TX.

Nosing reveals straw, caramel, honey, vanilla, maple syrup, lemon drops and charred wood. With a good amount of water, the smell of grass becomes more prominent along with notes of candied cherries, overripe banana and tobacco.

Flavors of lemon, green apple, ginger, honey, cherries, caramel and grass arrive early. The finish is tart and slightly leathery with a good amount of burn. Adding water reveals a bit of cardboard, graham cracker and light tobacco and transforms the finish into a long, spicy experience with plenty of burn and a remaining leathery tart mixture.

This is a decent whiskey, but not great… especially for the price.  The flavor is reminiscent of Eagle Rare 10 with more fruit and spice, but not as well executed.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2012

Bourbon, 12 Years, 48.5% ABV, $50

Bourbon, 12 Years, 48.5% ABV, $50

Nosing reveals butterscotch, toffee, sweet corn, orange zest, hay, cherries, peaches and tobacco. The taste is very tangy and peppery initially. There’s ginger, white pepper, orange, lemon, dry rhubarb and mild tobacco. About mid-palate, a charred, woody characteristic appears quickly followed by fruit… apricot, cherry and apple. The aftertaste is lightly woody with a leathery feel and a mild amount of pepper and bitter toffee. There’s a lot of flavor up front, but its bold and unbalanced. The finish is fairly long but uninteresting. Whatever interest is developed when the whiskey hits my mouth, is quickly diminished by disjointed flavors that just don’t work well together. I would pass on this one.

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon

Single Barrel Bourbon,
10 Year, 45% ABV, $22

The aroma is of fresh cut straw, honey, apple, tobacco, caramel and corn husk. As the aroma fades, the last thing I smell is dark ripe cherry.  The initial taste is very different from other bourbons I’ve had.  There’s a rough, earthy quality to it, yet its still delicate with a bit of sweetness. The flavors are molasses, honey, ginger, pine, candied cherry, white pepper and fig.  The finish is woody and peppery with the rough flavors following through to the end… molasses, pine sap and honey. It’s leathery and spicy, but nicely in balance.  This really is unique compared to other bourbons and I’m really enjoying it.  Further sipping reveals a bit of tart green apple and sweet tobacco.  I wish that I had tried this one much sooner.  Now, I’m looking forward to a taste of the 17 Year offering in the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Single Barrel Bourbon,
No Age Specified, 50% ABV, $40

Notes of toffee, cherry, shortbread and ginger on the nose with a hint of cigar box. There’s also a sweetness that nicely offsets the alcohol burn. The taste is full of ginger and pepper that bursts, then subsides to a gentle fade. The burst of flavor is also filled with bitter orange, apple, vanilla, cinnamon and plum jelly. A bit of clove and white pepper are left on the palate as the burn subsides. I would characterize this as a very bright and spicy whiskey. Smooth would not be an appropriate label here and I mean this in a positive sense. I may have to spring for a limited edition offering based on this experience. This is a unique bourbon and I’m looking forward to more like it.

Here’s the description from Four Roses:

A premium Single Barrel Bourbon with a taste you’ll want to savor again and again. Complex, full bodied and surprisingly smooth with a delicate long finish that’s unbelievably mellow. Contains hints of ripe plum and cherry tastes with fruity, spicy aromas including maple syrup and cocoa.

Stetson Bourbon

Bourbon, No Age Statement, 42% ABV, $49

This whiskey is a light amber with the smell of corn, toffee, lemon, ginger and vanilla. The taste is sweet corn, vanilla, lemon, orange and pepper. There’s a slight bit of woody aftertaste, but not much. This must be a fairly young bourbon. The pepper is light and long; the aftertaste brief and light. I also detect a bit of butterscotch up front after a while.

Master of Malt says:

Named for John B Stetson and originally launched for the German market, this bourbon honours the chap who invented a stalwart in my “top 7 hats” list, recently knocked off the number 3 spot by the classic “Homburg”. Fact hunt: Stetson’s hat was known as the “Boss of the Plains”, thanks to its lightweight, all-weather design and durability. I was once known as the boss of the planes, but I was fired because no one likes a draconian air steward.

Cabin Still Bourbon

Bourbon, 3 Years, 40% ABV, $11

I’m two days late on this one. I need to catch up quickly in order to have any hope of finishing on time.

This bottom shelf bourbon has a very weak nose of caramel and alfalfa. There’s a bit of syrupy texture from sweet corn and grass to mostly grass with lots of oak and sorghum. The finish is mostly the peppery burn of alcohol accompanied by leathery dried raisin and I still taste grass with lingering oak. I wouldn’t spend the $11 even if it were available here.

Heaven Hill describes Cabin Still this way:

An old-fashioned style of bourbon, Cabin Still is a sour mash whiskey from the Heaven Hill distillery.