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Feb 8, 201304:37 PMThe Telegraph

The Premier Blog of the West

Tasting Panel: Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky

Feb 8, 2013 - 04:37 PM
Tasting Panel: Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky

Texans already knew Texas was great. Some consider it Utopia. Apparently, they’re pretty darn good at making whiskey, too. Take, for example, Waco-based Balcones Distilling Company, whose Texas Single Malt Whisky beat the tar out of legendary single malt Scotches like Glenmorangie and Macallen in a 2012 London blind taste test, wherein 11 United Kingdom spirits experts awarded it Best in Glass.

Like many brilliant endeavors, Balcones had its genesis in drinks — in this case, beer. Before president and head distiller Chip Tate was toying with corn, he was tinkering with hops as a home brewer.

Indeed, the leap between distilling and brewing isn’t far these days. “What's so exciting is that I think there are a number of movements and trends that are converging to give the craft distilling movement it's momentum,” says Tate. “Craft brewing is a big part of that. … 'Foodies' are another group that are drawn to what we're doing with craft distilling as well as the "live local, buy local" movements like Go Texan are a part of it all, too.”

Unlike a handful of other companies, including San Antonio’s brewstillery Ranger Creek, though, Tate isn’t looking to produce beer and spirits. “It's a tempting idea, but not one we've seriously entertained. I love what they're doing at Ranger Creek on both the beer and whiskey side, but as they can tell you, running a brewery is hardly a 'side project.' For my part, as helpful as the cash flow of an operational brewery can be, I wanted all of our energy to go in to the whiskey.”

And what a whiskey!

So, what did our crackerjack panel of imbibers think of the award-winning single malt?

Steven Phelps (website content manager): It’s bright, short, with butterscotch, and a peppery finish. A fine whiskey.

José R. Ralat (associate editor): The char is on the lips. After that, there’s a lot of salted caramel. I dig the cinnamon, but, yeah, it doesn’t linger much.

Holly Henderson (fashion editor): I get a lot of apples. Also, it made my hair stand on end.

Kathy Wise (executive editor): I get the caramel, and I’d put it on the higher end of whiskeys. It’s sweeter and milder than most, but I’d have to mix it with something.

Hunter Hauk (website editor): A sliver of Coca-Cola would make a difference.

SP: Yeah, but no one turns down a whiskey this good.

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