‘Bizarre and brilliant'
N: Oily toasted sweetcorn is the unsurprising yet most striking note but theres also a strong waft of old mans socks filling the room which is worrying. Thankfully after half and hour those old socks are moving towards Bouillon veg stock powder [mainly celery seeds and carrots, and im guessing theres dried powdered fennel too], later blossoming into black treacle, Lyons ginger cake, Eccles and Christmas cake too. Also dried/ground ginger, Amontillado sherry and overall a smell i associate most strongly with dark dingy larders of yesteryear. It’s one undeniably distinctive BBQ sauce/sun-baked scrub that only Balcones truly know about. After a few weeks, those old socks have turned into rubber balloons and tyres, BBQ’ed tyres and plastic leather. Funny nose indeed, some unpleasantness lurks at time, but predominately there are wonderful, complex and fascinating notes abound.
T: Theres an immediate herbal note on the arrival, tarragon and a meaty note - spiced ham. The sweet spices tease the palate and i keep thinking this will become hot and get too big on me but its extremely well tempered all the way. Moorish fresh, woody, oily sugars entertain along with rich concentrated cherry juice. Theres a metallic note in there too, mercury came to mind but im sure i haven’t tried that! Add water and you get the most elegant and silky bourbon but you trade the dirtier more idiosyncratic notes Balcones has to offer. A few weeks later, the rubber and leather that developed on the nose has progressed to the palate too.
F: Consistently salivating and yet drying all the time, instant hot chocolate with cocoa powder sprinkles, light & toasted vanilla pods and smoke - cigar ash, but the smoke is more like a vapour rather than a permeating solid/liquid/gas collection. Having said all this, the overall lingering finish is one that reflects this unique scrub oak that is utterly unique and one i celebrate not least of all because its a successful new direction away from the conservative and prescriptive US bourbon presentations and also a radical alternative to traditional malting.
C: The Brimstone is a peculiar and appealing craft presented whiskey. The nose carries the most unusual characteristics whilst the rest develops splendidly. Possibly a marmite dram, i loved this fascinating and idiosyncratic presentation but its not something i could drink everyday. I wont buy another bottle too soon but once in a while i know i’ll want another BBQ rub fix.
Scores an A-