Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Whisky Discovery #348

Balcones True Blue 100 NAS (50% abv)
Texan Corn Whisky
Circa £68.00 70cl
Three Blue Corn Whiskies from Balcones
True Blue 100 is the final dram of our first Balcones Whisky Mission. This is the latest release from Balcones, introduced last year (2012) and is a 100 proof roasted blue corn whisky, a sibling of Baby Blue, but with deeper wood notes.

True Blue 100 is made from the same select barrels of our blue corn whisky that have always gone in to their True Blue Cask Strength, diluted down to 100 proof.

Since the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, '100 proof' has long stood for quality and authenticity. True Blue 100 carries on that tradition. 100% of the whisky in this bottle was born, raised, and bottled at Balcones-from mash to glass.

More approachable than full cask-strength whisky, True Blue 100 retains the depth and complexity of over-proof spirits with the softer edges, supple textures and fuller fruitiness that slight dilution can bring. Rich notes of honeyed citrus, stone fruit and cinnamon and a rich, roasted corn palate.

So What Did We Think?

I'm starting to really enjoy the blue corn whisky from Balcones, this being the fourth tasted over the last week or so. Proprietor and distiller Chip Tate is featured in the latest edition of Whisky Advocate where he explains the careful sourcing required to ensure the authenticity of the Hopi Indian-derived blue corn, as much of the blue corn on the market tends to be white starchy grain dyed blue. The blue corn Balcones is using is a waxy corn type, not a starchy type.

Chip goes on to divulge the difficulties associated with working with real blue corn. The corn needs to be roasted first, which posed the first problem due to the scale of the Balcones operation. Maltsters don't like the blue corn due to the oil content, and so working with a roaster was the first challenge to overcome. The oily waxiness of the blue corn creates a grittier mash which in turn needs a longer fermentation in order to achieve the best of it's oil based flavours.

True Blue 100 has an amazingly rich autumn leaves colour, all natural I hasten to add. The nose has a rich and creamy toffee aroma with sweet vanilla custard notes. There's some ginger spice (no not Geri Halliwell) and some nutty notes that go on to develop into a coffee grounds note. There's some soft fruit too, ripe mango and soft yellow plums.

The palate was not as sweet as the nose suggested it would be. Quite woody with a charred wood note too. There's a slight mustiness of old leather, a black breakfast tea, and roasted corn notes, before turning a little sweeter with some dark fruit notes. Spicy chili pepper slowly builds then oak tannins start dry the mouth leaving a light saltiness.

So our first foray into Texan distilled spirits, seven new discoveries, four of which have been made using blue corn. Of the seven tasted, I still maintain the True Blue Cask Strength to be my favourite, and I'm looking forward to revisiting all four of these blue corn whiskies again this weekend, head to head, when we'll be heading down to meet up with  Chip and Balcones at Whisky Live London on 22nd and 23rd March.

Many thanks to Johanne McInnis (@Whiskylassie) of The Perfect Whisky Match for sending samples and providing the bottle photographs

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