Balcones Texas Rye

Jared Himstedt is the head distiller responsible for this 100% Rye mashbill. Balcones started with Elbon Rye from Northwest Texas and combined it with some crystal, chocolate and roasted rye. Some of my favorite characterful whiskies are coming from Balcones these days. The Texas Rye 100 proof is a pot distilled rye whisky aged in oak in the States making it quite the unique dram.

Perhaps what makes Balcones so impressive is that they slap “never chill filtered or colored” right on the bottle. They believe in high quality ingredients and drawing on the local terroir to make their whisky. That doesn’t mean they don’t source some Rye from out of the state, but that they take the sourcing of quality ingredients seriously.

The Texas Rye is now part of their classic range and I remember Balcones Phil giving me a heads up at Whisky Live in DC a few months prior to the release. I had to pick up a bottle after hearing David de Kergommeaux and Mark Gillespie speak of it as being a truly unique take on the Rye experience.

Take all of the above and add in the fact that this Texas Rye has this amazing Reese’s Puffs flavor on the finish and you can’t help but be transported by this dram. While there are some young notes that poke around the palate, there is something about this pour that makes you want to keep on sipping. Balcones has impressed me with their Blue Corn whisky and their Brimstone – which tastes like BBQ brisket through and through.

So, here we have a new expression just added to the classic lineup and I’m interested in seeing where this whisky continues go as it moves through a few different iterations. I would also be interested in seeing what a little bit of age does to this Rye. But with all that said, this a Rye whisky that opens up my eyes to what a 100% Rye at 50% ABV can truly taste like. I must say, I’m convinced.

The Review

50% ABV

Date: 2.28.18

Appearance: A deep rich brown which is surprising for how young this whisky is. The large droplets form around the hem and sink casually down the glass.

Nose: Rye bread, dill, hints of caraway seed, soft, with only the subtlest hints of oak influence – some vanilla. In time the dill calms down and you are left with a nice cocoa & fresh rye bread note.

Palate: Oily and rich mouthfeel, a medium burst of pepper up front, followed by fresh rye bread, slightly herbaceous – dill, rye, allspice. There are hints of pipe tobacco & some fire roasted herbal notes.

Finish: Hints of campfire BBQ smoke, warming, hints of vanilla, dill. A long full-bodied finish that has hints of chocolate & a grassy quality. As it continues it tastes like you are eating a chocolate cake in between light puffs on a cigar. Slightly drying in time with a grassy vanilla & chocolate quality which reminds me of chocolate cake.

Score: 83/100

Verdict:

This is a whisky that surprises. Texas Rye is a young whisky – we get the promise that it is aged at least 15 months in oak. But it doesn’t suffer for it. I do believe between the Texas summers and the 100% Rye mash bill help to create a delicious alchemy.

For me this whisky really shines on the finish and the aftertaste. This is a whisky that lives on the mid palate and is balanced. While there is that common rye dill note on the initial pour, once it opens up it finds its rhythm. There is a complexity and a rich chocolate mole quality that makes this a delightful pour. It is definitely flavorful, savory, and rye driven. I would recommend this one if you like the flavors described above and don’t mind a bit of a dill note in your Rye.

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