When it comes to un-aged or lightly aged whiskey, we’ve been fairly disappointed with the offerings in the market place [see our article Putting White Dog Down]. Most young whiskeys lack any real depth or complexity and the fruitier notes in the grain tend to overpower everything else. Perhaps this is why we were so blown away by Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey from Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas. Baby Blue is a surprisingly complex and flavorful young whiskey that won raves from our tasting panel and joins Fingerlake Distilling’s Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey and Charbay’s Double and Twisted Light Whiskey as our absolute favorite young spirits on the market.
Here’s how the Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey and its older brother, True Blue Corn Whiskey, fared with our tasting panel.
Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey (92 proof – $40) – Light golden amber in color, this whiskey has a very full, sweet and inviting nose. There are hints of vanilla and caramel under distinct oak and sawdust notes. Tasted blind, it’s hard to pick this one out as a young whiskey by its nose. The distinct sawdust notes are unexpected and indicate to us some unique barreling for this spirit (perhaps a finish in French oak or first-use lightly toasted American oak?). The entry is a symphony of corn flavors with roasted corn, warm corn bread, and blue corn tortillas. This is followed by some nice heat and spice with a lush allspice, caramel mid-note. The Baby Blue Corn Whiskey has a medium finish which retains the sweet and spice of the mid note and finishes to a nice minty coolness.
Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey is a warm and inviting whiskey that stands heads and shoulders above almost every young whiskey we’ve tried. Its complexity of flavors and symphony of corn notes suggest that, if done right, you can create a great whiskey that doesn’t spend a lot of time in barrel. Very Highly Recommended
Balcones True Blue Corn Whiskey (122.6 proof – $60) – With the proof handwritten on the label by Balcones distiller Chip Tate, we expect that there will be some variance in the proof of this cask-strength whiskey from batch to batch. With a nice amber brown color, the True Blue Corn Whiskey has a sweet nose with caramel, honey, corn bread, bran and cinnamon. The entry is incredibly smooth considering that it’s cask strength. The first note is caramel which opens up to more cinnamon, cornbread, dark chocolate and brown sugar. The heat really comes in at the mid palate and sticks around through the finish. The finish is extremely long with a fair amount of heat. With more time in barrel and at a higher proof, some of the nice corn notes we loved in Baby Blue get lost with True Blue, but we love some of the more deep, lush, dark notes that we get here.
Balcones True Blue Corn Whiskey – With Baby Blue, Chip Tate proved that a young whiskey can have complexity, and with True Blue he shows that a cask strength whiskey can be approachable and very drinkable. While we’d probably pick the Baby Blue over the True Blue as our sipping whiskey, it’s hard to find a better entry point into the cask strength category than True Blue. Highly Recommended