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The Whiskey Club: Balcones and Aberlour

The recent addition of a membership to the whiskey club, Flaviar, has been an interesting journey. Most people opt for a wine club but I wanted to try something different. Flaviar seemed like a decent selection of whiskeys and gave a pretty good education on flavor profiles, history, and the ability to custom order stuff I can’t find near my home.

My first shipment arrived a couple weeks ago. It contained 3 flights of Balcones and a bottle of Aberlour 12 year. The tasting flights were large enough to share with a buddy of mine so we could compare what we thought about them.

Balcones Lineage Texas Single Malt

The lineage single malt claimed to have apples and pears on the tasting notes but I couldn’t discern anything past the overpowered woody walnut with a hint of vanilla. I added a few drops of water to it and it opened up a bit but I was still not impressed. I was hoping for more vanilla and caramel but found it more bitter and woody. It seems like it would pair well with a full bodied cigar but I doubt I will be revisiting this one.

whiskey 1
whiskey 2

Balcones Texas Single Malt (non-lineage)

The non-lineage single malt had a distinctive citrus and fruity flair to it but the higher alcohol content gave a bite on the back end. The toasted and spicy notes were felt more on an exhale after swallowing. None of them are bad, but none of them amazed me. I think if you are looking for something different its worth a try but there are better options at this price point.

whiskey 3
whiskey 4

Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

The Pot Still was easily the best and most approachable. The price point at under $30 seems like a good deal for what you get. It was light and sweet but left a subtle aftertaste I still can’t put my finger on. Probably best to use in an old fashioned. I will admit my bias here. I have always favored bourbon over all other whiskeys. This one is worth more than its price requires of you and I think would be a decent experiment or something different to share with guests that like a conversation piece.

whiskey 5
whiskey 6

Aberlour 12 Year Scotch

Sweet and fruity on the nose. No real peat to it. Lots of vanilla with a hint of cinnamon. Even the wife approved. I found it was very close to the classic laddie from Bruichladdich. A very pleasant bottle and I will likely keep this on hand for the less adventurous whisky drinkers that come over.

This bottle came in at a $60 price tag and felt like it was appropriately priced there. This was one of the better bottles I’ve had in this price range. This is an easily approachable bottle for dipping your toe into the world of whiskey.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, I put all 3 Balcones up against a Garrison Brothers .Guadalupe bourbon and Balcones just didn’t compete. If I reach for a Texas whiskey, it likely won’t be the Blacones. Texas has a characteristic heat to it that can destroy a batch of whiskey. It dries out the barrels and eventually causes them to crak and leak. The Garrison Brothers had a guy custom make thicker barrels to battle the elements and were able to produce a pretty unique flavor. Balcones on the other hand uses a heavy toasting to the barrels. Both distilleries produce very unique flavors that are drastically different than the standard kentucky based bourbons everyone references.

There is easily a place for both Garrison and Balcones in my home whiskey bar but my preference would be for the Garrison Brothers. However, I like to educate and share with interested friends so they both earn a spot on the shelf so others can compare and contrast to see what they prefer.

The Aberlour Single malt 12 year was such a pleasant find. Scotch can be a daunting experience for those who are new to whiskey. Comparing things like a heavily peated Port Charolette with the no peat Classic Laddie will show the two ends of the spectrum. If you really want to freak someone out, throw in a dram of Laphroiag for tasting. See how different they all are.

Stay tuned for the next shipment and see what happens next!!


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