Whiskey Review: Balcones Luckenbach

By John Dover / September 24, 2021

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Balcones Distilling. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The balance of distilling and the alchemy of barrel aging are present in all whisky. Sometimes blending of multiple batches is used to bring out characteristic flavors. Experimental aging in various barrels is utilized to add a new layer of character to a tried-and-true formula. These are some of the key ways that companies young and old have worked to differentiate themselves in the world of spirits.

Balcones Distilling, “the original Texas Whisky,” have a lot going for their brand. Since 2009, they have been delivering interesting whiskies and blends, with myriad awards attributed to their name. Based out of Waco, Texas, they have built their brand on tradition and bold flavors. Much of their staff’s origins are in the brewing industry, which does explain some of their flavor leanings with a more malty profile and layered elements. But the similarities stop there when it comes to the comparison of beer to whisky.

Their latest offering, Balcones Luckenbach, is a malt whisky aged in desert wine barrels, which is generally done to provide a smoother, fruit-forward flavor. With Texas’ drastic weather and temperature shifts driving an abbreviated aging process, I dove in expecting a complex, if perhaps young, profile, with echoes of fruit and a light sweetness. So, what is the experience behind this Texas original once the seal is cracked?

Balcones Luckenbach (image via John Dover)

Balcones Luckenbach (image via John Dover)

Tasting Notes: Balcones Luckenbach

Vital Stats: Available at the Balcones Distillery for about $60.00 for a 750 ML bottle. It has a proof of 54.1%. Made from Texas-grown malt, brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery.

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Appearance: Cola-colored, with a heavy viscosity that hangs on the glass.

Nose: Dark brown sugar mingles with oak with the first wafts. After it lingers for a while, a bit of Concord grape comes forward. The nose finishes with a sweet cola note.

Palate: Balanced heat coats the tongue and throat. Rich maple syrup and brown sugar weigh heavily on the palate with the added note of flat cola. There are hints of grape jelly that bring forward the fruity characteristic of this whisky.

Over ice a buttery note emerges, but it takes a bit of time to cut the sweet factor down. Once the dilution took hold, it had a decent sipping quality if you are ok with a whisky on the sweeter side. It has some interesting flavor profiles to possibly enhance mixed drinks.

The Takeaway

Summary

Decent sipper once watered down but sweeter than my palate tends to lean on. I would consider this a decent entry level whisky for those that are not looking for the heat, or the more earthy flavors present in some whisky. I do feel that it is a bit of an immature whisky for the price point. The company is doing interesting work and I look forward to where they continue to strive to take drinkers palates.

2.5