Nov 23, 201210:15 AMThe Telegraph

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Tasting Panel: Ranger Creek .36 Texas Bourbon Whiskey and Small Batch No. 3

Nov 23, 2012 - 10:15 AM
Tasting Panel: Ranger Creek .36 Texas Bourbon Whiskey and Small Batch No. 3

Photo courtesy of Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling

Texans love Texas but have a dislike for one another. This especially true in the case of Dallas versus Houston. To our knowledge, though, no one harbors hatred for San Antonio. The Alamo City is the cradle of Texas and Tex-Mex. It has born the fruit that has nurtured the Lone Star State. It’s also given Texans some excellent drink options, including Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling, the subject of this week’s Tasting Panel, and a personal favorite of this Cowboys & Indians staffer.

In two years, Ranger Creek has built a steady reputation for quintessentially Texas beers (e.g., Mesquite Smoked Porter and Red Headed Stranger), approachable beers (Mission Trail Ale) as well as the seasonal tinkering that is the bread and butter of craft brewing (Wine Barrel Aged La Bestia Aimable and the Small Batch Series). Above all, Ranger Creek is focused on the intersection of whiskey, beer, and barrel aging, a sweet spot that divided the editorial tasting panel.

The brewstillery’s .36 bourbon comes from its Small Caliber Series and gets its name from the pistol carried by Texas Rangers. It’s a punchy spirit with a flavor profile that develops slowly, evoking vanilla, earthy and campfire notes. The whiskey also has a finish as long as a prized set of longhorns. You’ll not soon forget its firepower, which, as it turned out, wasn’t appreciated by most of the participants. As for my evaluation: I was still relishing .36 30 minutes after one sampling and dug the forward peppery bite.

The latest in Ranger Creek’s Small Batch Series, English-style Barleywine No. 3 spends time in French oak barrels, tempering the 10% alcohol by volume of this strong beer variety. It’s a smooth drink with fruity and herbal tones layered in light spice that proved irrestible to the gathered imbibers who wished there was more of the stuff. Unfortunately, we could only snag two 12.7 ounce bottles, which carry QR code identifying each batch, the details of which can be seen online or by scanning the QR code with a smart phone. Yeah. No. 3 is tasty and high-tech.

But enough with the intro. Let’s get to the C&I team’s thoughts.

.36 Texas Bourbon Whiskey

Hunter Hauk (website editor): It burned. I could only drink it again on a dare.

Lauren Crispin (art director): This is like gasoline. Intense.

Kathy Wise (executive editor): This is young and raw.

Steven Phelps (web content manager): Wow. It’s got character and a really long finish.

José R. Ralat (associate editor): I love the white pepper.

Hunter: You can make out flavors?

Holly Henderson (fashion editor): It makes my hair stand on end, and that’s good.

Small Batch Series No. 3

KW: This beer has an herbal note I can’t pinpoint. It’s got the kind of flavors that make you want to chase it with another beer.

LC: It smells like apricot.

Holly: So yeasty. I don't really care for the smell.

JR: I get thyme, caramel, oregano, coriander, and leather. Small Batch No. 2 was a farmhouse ale, a phenomenal beer made with smoked grain. This, this is better.

Hunter: I don’t usually enjoy strong beers, but I could drink more than one of these.

JR: We need more.

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