Balcones High Plains Texas Single Malt Whisky is made entirely from barley, grown and malted in Texas, and was born from a collaboration between Balcones Distilling and Blackland Malts (Texas’ first malthouse). Blackland Malts worked together with Texas A&M University to uncover how to brew and distil grains grown in Texas. Balcones then purchased the first-ever Texas-grown harvest suitable for malting from Blackland in 2016, and the rest is the history I have in my glass tonight.
High Plains is made from 100 % malted barley, and just like with every other spirit by Balcones, no colour is added and it is non-chill filtered to preserve the rich oils and esters in the spirit. This is the second batch, and it has seen the inside of Kentucky Bourbon ex-French Oak casks.
The nose on High Plains is very fragrant, although not too pronounced. My very first thought is, “wow, this whisky is an interesting one!” and I am almost overwhelmed with different notes. At first, I am finding a subtle floral note I am unsure how to describe. It is not perfumey or overpowering, it is just a gentle whiff of something floral. Then I am getting oak, caramel, salted butter – almost a little like buttery popcorn, rubber (tyres), raisin, some vanilla, slightly tart cherries and stone fruits, mainly peach pits. All these notes are then followed by malt and grain, giving it a warm and cosy feel.
Even though I have mentioned fruits, I would not take it so far as calling this whiskey fruity. I am also finding a distinct note of new make on the nose, the pleasant, not the raw, sharp kind.
The high ABV is noticeable, and it gives me a wonderful, warming feeling in my chest. On the palate, I am getting caramelised sugar, it has a slightly toasted note to it, an unexpected sweetness of honey, malt, biscuits, dried fruits like raisins and prunes. Some of that new make is also noticeable on the palate, in conjunction with a subtle rubbery note.
The finish is just as interesting as the initial nose, and it is long and delicious. Notes like loads of caramel, golden syrup, and slight wooden bitterness are giving it a drier kind of finish. There is also a greener note on the back of my tongue, like mint or eucalyptus, but it is barely there. The malty notes linger, leaving this biscuity note in the back of my throat, and I am in love with it.
It might not be my typical dram of whisky, but I find myself going back for another sip, discovering new notes and enjoying every drop of Balcones High Plains!
Single Malt Whisky
ABV: 57 %
Country: United States of America
Balcones Distilling was founded by Chip Tate and Jared Himstedt in 2008, in Waco, Texas. They distilled their first spirit in 2009 as the first ones in Texas since prohibition and is now one of their largest craft distilleries. Their copper pot stills were built by Forsyths of Scotland, and in 2011 they purchased the Texas Fireproof Storage Co. building, giving them 65 000 square feet of space for production. At the end of 2016, they finally opened their doors to the public and it is now possible to book tours or visit their tasting room.
Tasting notes and opinions about this release are strictly my own.