The 12 drams of xmas: Day 12

Finishing the series of reports on the 12 drams of xmas twitter tasting event: After my correct guess on day 11 I needed only 5 points (so just the region/country right) for the W…

Quick reminder: 11 online whisky enthusiasts poured half a bottle of whisky into 10 sample bottles and sent them to the other 10 taking part. The bottles were marked only with the number of the day we were due to start. On the given day, we all blind tasted the chosen dram and tried to guess what it was.

Though I did well on some of the drams and embarrassingly badly on some others, I’m posting my tasting notes, my unedited guesses and revealing the answers.

Dram #12 was from Sean Foushee (@WhiskyMarks on twitter). Here are my notes:

Nose: Cherry coke, vanilla, rye, spicy cough syrup.

Palate: Cherry cough mixture, nutty, spicy pepper and rye.

Finish: Rich Cherry coke, chilli pepper and lots of oak.

My guess: Got to be American or Canadian. But which? I’ve stumped for Canadian Crown Royal XR.

The answer: Balcones True Blue Corn USA Whiskey. Less than a year old 63%ABV

Oh well. 0 points and no win for me. However, this day 12 whisky, LESS THAN A YEAR OLD??? I would never have believed you could get that much colour and character on such a young whisky. This was really amazing stuff and probably the highlight of 12 drams for me.


New Year Review: Balcones Brimstone

Happy new year everyone!

I thought carefully before I chose the first dram for 2013 and, in the end, I went for something that’s really in vogue at the moment: Balcones Brimstone, a corn whisky distilled at a small craft distillery in Texas and infused, post distillation, with smoke via a secret process.

The result is something very different that has excited the whisky blogosphere, particularly in the states, and that is now available in the UK via the Whisky exchange. Thanks to Steve Prentice over at The Somerset Whisky Blog I had a sample ready to review. So, what is all the fuss about? Here are the dramstats:


  • ABV 53%
  • Price £64.95 via the whisky exchange

Nose: Starts like a very sweet Bourbon and decends, on third sniff (read breath) into smokey bacon crisps/ bacon fries. There are classic sweet bourbon notes there yet the pungency of the smokey bacon flavour really dominates. After the first taste spices come through including smoked paprika and pepper. The corn shines through more after a taste too. The best tasting note I have here is smokey bacon flavour doritos (other tortilla chips are available).

Palate: Smokey bacon and really pungent. The sort of flavour that, if you eat it, you expect it to repeat on you all night! It has a creamy mouthfeel and after another taste, the spices from the nose come through with a note of burnt chips.

Finish: Never ending! Pepper, hint of Bourbon and cough medicine then smokey bacon flavouring on burnt crisps that just continues. 15 minutes after I’ve finished and I can still taste smokey bacon on burnt crisps.

Verdict: WOW! This is so different. Often, when you give tasting notes, you are talking about a subtle flavour that you have picked up that triggers a memory, yet is integrated into the whisky. The smokey bacon here is nothing like that. It’s upfront and pungent, and makes this dram nothing like any whisky I’ve ever tasted. It’s great and it’s unique. Would I buy a bottle? Well I’m not certain. At £65 it’s expensive for a young American whiskey. Particularly when a 75cl bottle goes for less than half that in the states. However, it is utterly unique. If you’ve not tried it, £65 is a snip for the experience plus a bottle of excellent whisky. Now I’ve tried it, I think I’ll hang on for the price to come down in the UK. Well done to the guys at Balcones for coming up with something so cool. I’ll be trying to source the rest of their range now.