Review: Balcones Brimstone

The fires of hell were blazing, the night Balcones Brimstone was born. At birth the beast drew gallons of sulphuric air in its lungs and released his deafening roar. Brimstone looked down and smiled, as he saw the people before him tremble. His blackened heart filled with unrelenting hatred, for all of humankind. And he swore the world would burn at his touch, come Halloween’s night!

Tasting Notes: Balcones Brimstone

Stats:

ABV: 53% (106 Proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Balcones

Owned by: Chip Tate

Category: Texas Scrub Oak Smoked Corn Whiskey

Awards: The Spirits Business Gold (2016), New York World Wine & Spirits Double Gold (2016)

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

Tonight, it’s All Hallows’ Eve, which I thought called for a fitting dram. Not only does this beast of a whisky carry a name that suits, but the palate can catch you by surprise as well. I find myself very much in a mood for a dram just like that. So, I poured the Brimstone in a Glencairn, and find myself set to go.

Nose:

The nose is quite sweet, with some savoury notes as well. I find myself thinking of honey glazed baby back ribs, dripping with oil. There’s some rosemary here as well, and a little bit of thyme. You could almost say that this hunk of meat in the nose, is seasoned very well. I’m also getting some lighter tea notes, and there’s some fudge in it as well. There might be very little subtlety to this dram’s nose, but there is complexity. A bundle of heavy scents, that mixes quite well.

Palate:

Here the beast shows it’s roaring head, bellowing flames across my palate. Where I said there was little subtlety before, here that becomes a grotesque understatement. The ribs from the nose are still there, but they are burnt to a crisp. And I find myself vaguely imagining licking the fat of the charcoal, that dripped down from the grill. There’s dark molasses and a herbal quality to it as well. But that burnt meat flavour just overwhelms. Now I hope this description doesn’t horrify you too much, because I don’t think it’s bad at all. But it’s a shocking dram as sure as hell!

Finish:

The charcoal really lingers on the tongue for a longue while, and the burnt meat is still there as well. The soot clings to your mouth and as time passes it lingers and becomes more and more bitter. You can recognise the meat in here if you try very hard, but it’s not a finish I’d like to linger on for all too long. Where I still found plenty of pleasant notes in the nose and the palate, the finish is like the dying embers of charcoal fire where there’s little place for complexity at all.

Verdict:

I love this whisky! But I don’t think it’s an amazing dram. It’s perfect for shocking a couple of friends and I do think it’s well made and very fun to add in a line-up from time to time. But it’s focus is clearly on the shock factor and for that it’s also aptly named. If you want a shocker, you can’t go wrong with this one. But if you want to peacefully enjoy a dram, just look the other way. For around 50 euro, it’s fun to have in the collection. But for me that’s about all. Nevertheless, it is an adventure to drink, and perhaps you’ll find a more heroic story. And so, as always, my advice: Go out and take the journey for yourself. Who knows what you might find!

Rating:

66.6/100

Value:

C

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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