When one looks across the various grain types that can be grown in Texas, barley is certainly one of them, but it is only grown in very small amounts relative to other crops. There is enough going on, however, that an enterprising distillery might be able to produce American single malt whiskey from some of it, particularly if partnered with a regional malthouse. It is to this end therefore that Balcones Distilling has introduced High Plains Texas Single Malt in conjunction with Blacklands Malt.
Balcones High Plains Texas Single Malt, according to those behind it, has been in the works since 2016, when the distillery and Blacklands Malt first collaborated on it. The latter actually has even deeper roots in a way around this concept, originally having partnered with Texas A&M University back in 2012 on what it would take to brew and distill grains that could be grown in state. Four years later the malthouse provided the first ever Texas-grown harvest suitable for malting barley, and Balcones was one of the first to purchase this harvest and to create a mash with this Texas craft malt.
“Our goal is to bring forward unique, Texas-infused whiskies that not only differentiate themselves in flavor but also inspire real community impact by supporting Texas agriculture, manufacturing, and the growing craft malt industry,” said Brandon Ade, founder of Blacklands Malt, in a prepared statement.
“The two years of aging have been worth the wait,” added Jared Himstedt, head distiller of Balcones Distilling. “We ended up with some very welcome subtle nuances during maturation with this Texas Malt that we’re excited about.”
As it stands now plans call for High Plains, priced at $80 and bottled at 52.7% ABV, to be made available through the distillery this month. Limited official tasting notes suggest “opening aromas of stewed apples, sauternes, honeycomb and light mink oil. On the palate, it delivers manuka honey, suede, cedar, tea tree oil, nutmeg and roasted chestnuts.”
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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...