Whiskey Review Round Up: Balcones Texas Rye Whisky and Texas Rye Whisky Cask Strength - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review Round Up: Balcones Texas Rye Whisky and Texas Rye Whisky Cask Strength

We’ve written about Waco, Texas-based Balcones whiskies before, from their single malt to their True Blue 100 corn whiskey. Balcones has made a name for itself in their invention and iconoclasm (for example, the team there at one time made all the distilling equipment themselves) and its use of ingredients like blue corn and wildflower honey.

And now, about a decade after the distillery’s inception, Balcones has come out with two ryes, a 100% Texas Rye and Texas Rye Cask Strength, a cask strength 100% rye. The cask strength is a limited edition and 125 proof. Both ryes are twice pot-distilled and aged in new charred American oak. Balcones also calls out that their ryes are made from 80 percent raw Elbon rye from north and northwest Texas, including some Crystal, Chocolate and Roasted rye varieties.

Balcones is going full speed ahead in its rye production and devoting resources and space accordingly: As we also reported previously, during the first quarter of 2018, they’re focusing 85 percent of their production capacity solely to rye—that’s about 1,000 barrels’ worth.

Given the distillery’s interesting story and continued stellar reputation, we were interested to sample the results of Balcones’ dedication to quality, interesting whisky.

Balcones Texas Rye

Balcones Texas Rye (image via Balcones)

Tasting Notes: Balcones Texas Rye

Vital stats: 100% rye, 50% ABV, about $40.

Appearance: Greenish gold, and not just because it has a green label. It’s the color of old fir trim in an old house. Or, Pottery Barn wood furniture.

Nose: The chocolate billed in the rye makes itself known right quick—it’s like squares of those mini Hershey’s Special Dark. Very rich and deep. Think of really plush, kind of underdone brownies. Also, those chocolate cherries covered in foil.

Palate: Although it’s very chocolately on the nose, it’s more grassy and cereal-like on the palate. It starts like bourbon and finishes like scotch. It’s a little hot at first, but smoothes out on subsequent sips.

Final Thoughts: This is a delightful sipper. I would drink this any time but especially hanging out by a fire. I tasted this in the heat of summer and this time of year in Portland, Oregon, is all kinds of amazing, but this is making me crave winter…in a way.

Score: 4/5

Tasting Notes: Balcones Texas Rye Cask Strength

Vital stats: 100% rye, 62.3% ABV, limited quantities.

Appearance: Reddish gold, like the color of an Irish Setter’s mane.It’s almost too dark to see through. Burnished, like the color of a European dandy’s spit-shined fancy shoes. Maybe it’s all that proof making it opaque?

Nose: Very, very mellow. A little cherry, but this time without the chocolate. Peaches. Ripe nectarines. And—I know this is weird—coconut water. Not coconut, but that slight vanilla scent of boxed coconut water.

Palate: The cask strength definitely delivers more of a brighter, harder punch. It has a scotch-ey finish, without the sweet bourbon flavor to kick it off. A little water opens it up and brings out a molasses, syrupy quality to it, but this is a little too punchy for me. It’ll definitely wake you up—before you pass out if you drink too much.

Final thoughts: It’s undoubtedly high proof, and a little strong for the sake of being strong, in my opinion. I often enjoy seeing what cask strength brings up, but to me, it brings too much up. I’d happily sip on the rye, but this overwhelms me. If you love being knocked out, though, be my guest.

Score: 3/5

About the author

Carin Moonin

A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor and learning what it can do for me. I’ve written for publications including Salon.com, DailyDot.com, Willamette Week, Portland Monthly, and more. When I’m not drinking whiskey or writing about it, I can be found running, reading, or seeking out free samples in grocery stores.