Balcones 4, 2017-2021, American Oak Barrel 16993, 63.6% – Archives

Image from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

It’s not often that a four year old whisky scores richly above 88 points on Whiskybase, but this one does. It’s 28 votes, so not the most in the world, but not insignificant either.

This Texas single malt whisky was released late last year at Whiskybase, and contrary to their other Balcones releases, this time I was able to pick one up before it sold out. I believe the previous release lasted all of twelve minutes on the website when it came out.

Balcones is a fairly unique distillery in Waco, Texas. They’ve been making all kinds of whiskies and sometimes other spirits too. Luckily for us, their products are relatively easy to come by in The Netherlands, because what they’re doing is pretty interesting.

Young single malts that pack a lot of punch. Bourbons and ryes that we shouldn’t dismiss either. Sometimes their whisky gets smoked over scrub oak, which gives it a whole other dimension. All in all, good stuff, ever since the Brimstone was announced.

Let’s see if this one can live up to both Balcones’ and Archives’ reputation!

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
This is a bold whiskey on the nose. There’s some really intense notes of oak, tree bark, beef jerky. Is that mesquite? It reminds me of the mesquite chunk I sometimes use for barbecue. Notes of barbecue too, charry beef.

Sip:
I find the palate surprisingly smooth for a 63.6% drink. Of course, there’s some bite, but far less than you’d expect. After a minute or so, some more alcohol heat shows up. There’s dark chocolate with raisins, and some rum macerated plums too.

Swallow:
The finish is dry with lots of barbecue char, beef and oak. There’s a nice lingering tinge, with some dry notes and richness. The finish has those same raisin, rum and chocolate notes too.

This is a big whiskey. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical when Whiskybase/Archives started bottling Balcones, but this is something else! A very interesting whisky that does familiar things, but in a rather unique way. So it really takes single malt whisky for a spin! I’m keeping my eye on future releases like this…

So yes, yes it does live up to expectations. And then some!

89/100

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About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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