Balcones whiskies

Founded in Texas, USA, in 2008 by a team of single malt Scotch enthusiasts, Balcones quickly began accumulating awards worldwide. Stemming from the USA’s surge in craft brewing and distilling, this distillery highlights how American whisky (in this case without the ‘e’), with its bold and intense flavours, is rapidly proving itself equal to other regions in terms of quality and innovation. Join the Club so you don’t miss out on our next exclusive Balcones release! 

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Balcones Distilling's History:

Just as we've seen in Australia, the USA's experienced a boom in craft brewing and distilling in recent years. While most are producing Bourbons and other American-styled grain-based whiskeys, there are a handful of distillers turning out world-class single malts. At the forefront of this movement is Waco Texas-based Balcones Distilling.

Founded in 2008 by lovers of single malt Scotch, there was never any question as to whether there'd be an 'e' in their whisky or not. And while American distilleries tend to be named after their founder, the same approach was taken as many Scottish distilleries; naming the distillery after its location, or a nearby geographical feature. To that end, the name Balcones was chosen, after the Balcones fault line that runs across Texas. Even the logo is an artistic representation of the tectonic plates meeting at the fault line. Formed millions of years ago, the Balcones fault produced many natural springs around Texas, supplying early settlers with fresh water, and today provides the distillery with crystal clear water. 

An old welding shop tucked away under a bridge was taken over, and then given a makeover including a shiny set of copper pot stills which were finally brought to life in 2009. Balcones Baby Blue became the first Texas whisky on the market since prohibition the following year, followed by Balcones Texas Single Malt, which picked up World's Best Single Malt Whisky at the 2012 Best in Glass competition. 

Business boomed and soon Balcones had outgrown its rather cramped 2,000 square foot (around 185m2) building. More space was needed, and in 2011 the old Texas Fireproof Storage Co. building was purchased. This 65,000 square foot (around 6,000m2) concrete, steel, and brick facility located in downtown Waco was built in 1923, and immediately became the new home for all of Balcones' barrels. Meanwhile, plans for a complete, world-class distillery fit-out for the site were underway.  

2014 was a big year for Balcones, not only being named U.S. Craft Whiskey Distiller of the Year at 2014 Icons of Whisky, but at long last, work was underway on the new distillery. The new build was to preserve the character of both the building and the whisky while increasing production capacity tenfold. They installed an 80+-year-old mash tun that was originally from the Speyburn distillery, seven large fermentation tanks or washbacks were installed outside the back of the building, complete with glycol cooling jackets to keep the wash at the optimum temperature as it ferments, and four copper pot stills made by the legendary Forsyths of Scotland. Now, these stills are far from ordinary...

Heated by steam injection, the stills were designed to be scaled-up versions of the original ones, however, there was a problem. To properly make larger versions of the original spirit still, the lyne arms would have been so long they'd end up in the next room. That wasn't going to work, so the team at Forsyths fabricated unique helical coiled lyne arms instead of the traditional gooseneck style, to ensure copper contact remained unchanged from the original distillery. And they look spectacular.

The new distillery was finally completed and the doors were swung open in late 2016, planting Balcones firmly onto the Waco tourist map.

Balcones double distil, slow and low, giving master distiller Jared Himstedt maximum control over the flavour profile of the spirit. Maturation takes place in a wide range of barrel types, and similarly to in Australia, the higher average temperatures and rapid temperature swings Texas experiences force the barrels to "breathe" at a much faster rate than in Scotland, accelerating maturation and helping develop the big flavours Balcones has become known for.

Balcones was crowned Distilling Brand Innovator of the Year, and head distiller Jared Himstedt won Master Distiller/Blender of the Year in Whiskey Magazine's Icons of Whiskey America winners for 2019. Balcones has been recognised in awards around the world countless times, a testament to the team that pour their heart and soul into the whisky.

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