With more than 15 years of experience as a home brewer and a diploma from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London, Chip Tate - master distiller at Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas - is serious about making a premium Texas whisky. Every square inch of his distillery - from the 235-gallon hand-hammered copper pot stills to the woodwork and copper plumbing - was made by Tate and his team of distillers at Balcones. "Our equipment is built exactly the way we want it,"he says. "We know because we built it that way."
Balcones Brimstone Whisky is crafted exclusively from roasted Hopi blue corn. This unique strain of corn, which is sourced from New Mexico, produces kernels that are full of rich, roasty nuttiness. "I wanted some corn with guts and a really nice flavor,"Tate says. "Only the Hopi blue corn had the depth and elegance needed to create something truly exceptional."
Balcones Brimstone is made by mashing and fermenting the corn, and distilling the resulting wash twice through Tate's copper-pot stills. Following distillation, Tate smokes the distillate - the whisky that is produced after distillation but before maturation - with sun-baked Texas scrub oak using a proprietary process that remains a closely-guarded secret. While a number of distilleries smoke grains prior to distilling them - peated Scotch, for instance, is made by smoking barley over a peat flame - Tate smokes the distillate that is produced after the wash passes through the still. The proprietary process results in a whisky that has a unique flavor profile - the Texas scrub oak adds notes of bacon, barbecue and pulled pork to the whisky. The notes of barbecue and brisket are bold but not overpowering. Rather, they complement flavors of chili pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers.
After the distillate is smoked, it is aged in lightly charred, American oak barrels before each bottle is filled and labeled by hand. Balcones Brimstone earned a score of 95.5 points from Jim Murray's Whisky Bible and the title "Best in Category"at the American Distilling Institute Competition in 2012.
"We're trying to do something that's novel," says Tate, noting that Brimstone is one of only a few blue corn whiskies available on the market. "More importantly, we're trying to do something that's authentic."Try some authentic whisky today!
106 (53% ABV)
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Notes of bacon, barbecue and pulled pork that are bold but not overpowering. Complemented by notes of chili pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers and lead to a smooth, warming finish.