First up: Chip Tate's Balcones, run out of Waco, Texas. For a whole bunch of info on Chip & Co, please see this post by The Coopered Tot. Balcones has a number of products on the market. There's a Texas Single Malt, which I like. There's Brimstone, beloved by MAO. They have the True Blue and Baby Blue corn whiskies. And then there are the Rumbles. Today I'll be reviewing Balcones Rumble, batch R12-3.
|Sample courtesy of Whisky Joe, via a sample swap. Thanks, Whisky Joe!|
Region: Waco, TX, USA
Type: Not Whisky
Distilled from: Texas wildflower honey, mission figs, and turbinado sugar
Maturation: "small oak barrels"
Alcohol by volume: 47%
The color is light gold. The nose holds a lot of slivovitz (Eastern European damson plum brandy) and honey cake. Then some roast pork, rose buds, and Milk Dud caramel. With some air, the nose develops fruit cake and vanilla bean notes. The palate is immediately more pleasant and less sugary than expected, and the texture is quite thick. There are bold honey notes and lots of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, and red peppercorns). Subtler notes of honey butter and a cross between Sprite and tonic water. With air, the palate shows some of the slivovitz and toasty oak. Some molassy rum arrives in the finish, along with vanilla, honey, caramel, and some dry tannins.
The nose gets saltier and rummier. Honey and orange peel. Much less eau-de-vie. The palate mellows out. Soft bitterness and soft vanilla. Slivovitz and fresh figs. A little peppery. The texture gets outrageously creamy. The finish gets more of a bitter bite. Then in comes the figs and plum brandy.
This was much better than I expected. I'd anticipated a mess of aggressive sweetness matched with too much fresh oak. But the fig brandy element pulls the Rumble away from getting too rummy. The oak is present, and gives it sort of a whiskey feel, but the tannins and pulp are much less pushy than that of many rejuvenated-cask-matured single malts.
I don't think this will blow away a single malt-only fan, but I know I liked it A LOT more than the extra sweet cheap rums on liquor store shelves. The Rumble might also be an alternative of interest for rum fans. In any case, I strongly recommend you find a way to try this before buying it. The price is on the steep side, considering that it's for a very young spirit. The one positive spin I can put on the cost is that it supports a small business, a company that has probably 1/10000th the capital of Diageo.
Availability - Most specialty retailers
Pricing - $50-$60
Rating - 83