Balcones is located in Waco Texas, and has been producing whisky since 2008. Notably, Balcones uses the “whisky” spelling versus the typical American spelling of “whiskey.” One thing that helps them stand out from other distilleries is they use unusual grains. For their Texas Rye, multiple types of rye grains are used in the mashbill, including elbon rye from northwest Texas, along with crystal, chocolate, and roasted rye. The exact percentages of each rye are not provided by Balcones.
The bottle being reviewed comes from batch RYE10018-3 with a date of 8/14/18.
A large dose of rye grain slathered in chocolate is instantly noticeable. Inhaling deeper pulls out more classic rye scents along with a hint of salted caramel, malted grains, and a touch of smoke. These scents lead to Texas Rye’s nose having a different aroma than what you would expect from a rye having 100% rye, or close to that, in its mashbill. Don’t take different for bad, as in this case the large dose of chocolate rye presents a delicious start.
The sip provides a lighter, yet flavor-rich mouthfeel. Rye spice and chocolate combine to form a spicy chocolate that’s akin to a piece of chili mexican chocolate. More chocolate is added in and takes form as a chocolate malt ball, along with the slightest touch of oak. The interplay of spice and chocolate is dominant, as these rich flavors overpower others that may be present. In this case however, it just works, as the balance is spot on producing a palate that makes you want to continuously go back for more.
The finish continues what the palate started, with spiced chocolate and chocolate malt balls to start things off. These transition to a lighter chocolate note that is combined with leather and oak. The flavors eventually taper down to a long lingering note of rye grain and damp oak. It’s not as bold as the palate, yet it’s a satisfying way to end the sip.
Balcones has been a staple in the American whiskey scene now for over 10 years and it’s at the stage of its life where it is teetering on still being labeled craft by some, and as a well established staple by others. Their claim to fame is their use of unique grains, and that is quite evident in Texas Rye. The use of multiple variations of ryes pulls forward a flavor profile that is both unique and somehow feels appropriate coming from a Texas distillery. The resulting sip is one that you can easily envision yourself enjoying on a back porch on a hot Texas night.
Texas Rye is unlike any other rye currently in the marketplace. The sip provides the spice that rye lovers crave, but with the bold addition of rich chocolate notes throughout. More impressive; it does all of this with less than two years of aging and little to no typical youthful flavor notes present. Not too many whiskeys are able to manage this, but Texas Rye knocks it out of the park in this area.
A low age statement from a Texas distillery doesn’t exactly scream value. However, in Texas Rye’s case, $40 is a more than reasonable price to pay for this whiskey. The flavor profile is bold and flavorful, delivering a rich sip that is easy to go back for “just one more.” Texas Rye delivers a sip that is unlike many in the market, and easily supports the asking price.
A quirky all-rye mashbill delivers a memorable rich sip from the heart of Texas.
Balcones Texas Rye is an incredibly easy sipper that simply put, is “tasty.” I found its spicy chocolatey flavor profile an uncommon yet welcome reprieve to the ryes I’ve tasted this year. Short of not being a fan of chocolate, most will find enjoyment with its unexpected flavor profile. While it’s young in age, in this case I don’t know if the flavor profile would hold up if it spent more time in the barrel. Instead, Balcones seems to have found the perfect sweet spot for when to bottle, resulting in a rye that is an easy recommendation.