Wherein I attempt a bonafide whiskey review just like the fancy boys

Wherein I attempt a bonafide whiskey review just like the fancy boys


I got an email from a distillery in Scotland. Some Scottish fella who was amused by the coarse way I used to write about Irish whiskey back before I repented of my heathenish ways and got saved by a ham-fisted Irish Texan named Seamus in a bar here in San Antonio. But hell, I already wrote about that night, so I got no reason to revisit that particular story.

Anyway this guy wondered if I might write a review for his distillery. But first he wanted me to write a “real” review for him so he could see if I can do it. By “real” I assume he means with fancy talk and no fucks or shits or goddamits scattered around that might give gentle folks the vapors.

Might be some free whiskey in it for me, so I’ll give it a try. Why not? So what follows is my attempt at a bonafide whiskey review, just like the fancy sommel-yays do it.


Balcones Cask Strength Rye Whiskey
A review by Boosh

I had the opportunity recently to sample a dram of the new Balcones cask strength rye whiskey. We Texas whiskey fans have come to appreciate and even love the unapologetic approach of this award winning Waco distillery. They do good work. Outstanding craftsmen and women are they. But the question is, can Balcones do for rye what they have done with distinction and honor for bourbon and single malts?

And the answer, dear readers, is a resounding yes. Huzzah for the good people at Balcones, for they have done it again.

Distillery manager Zach Pilgrim allowed me to taste a sample of their cask strength rye a few weeks before it was released, and it was the prospect of that impending experience that led me three hours north to Waco on the Brazos, a charming little Texas hamlet to be sure, and I recommend you visit someday if the opportunity arises.

Thank goodness Zachary served my dram in a decent glass. A Glencairn no less. Well played, good sir Zachary. One simply must have the olfactory advantage that a properly shaped glass provides if one is to fully appreciate the nose of a good whiskey, don’t you think?

Of course you think, as I only attract readers of a certain level of sophistication and who possess a rarified understanding of these things.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

On the nose:

I was confused at first. Where were the beloved spice notes I look for and indeed require in a quality rye? There was strong wood, certainly, as this is a Texas distillery and the whiskey is dark and rich and oaky. I found a dusky molasses, yes. Dark coffee, yes. Dark chocolate, yes. I went back into the glass once, twice, thrice, and there it was. Spice on the nose. Herbal. Fresh. But not braggadocian. Somewhat understated or possibly struggling to get out from under all that Texas wood.

Dear reader, this is cask strength whiskey, so you will have to work for whatever you get. You might want to back it down with a few drops of water to unlock those spicey rye notes, but I assure you they are there.

The taste:

And now for the moment I’d been waiting for. The collision of tongue and spirit with any Balcones product is intense, and this powerful rye is no exception. It’s like a complex dance, if you think about it. One simply must….


I’m not doing it. The hell with the Scottish asshole arsehole with his fancy distillery. He can come all the way to Texas and kiss my ass. I can’t do it. I won’t. I respect writing too much, and you know how I feel about whiskey.

Jeezus, I slung the shit so deep I’m gonna need a snow shovel to get to my goddam kitchen.

I will never be a world-class whiskey writer, but I guess I can tell you what I REALLY thought of Balcones rye.


Balcones Cask Strength Rye Whiskey
A true “bite me” whiskey from Texas

I know you’re gonna want to smell this whiskey, so be careful. It’s sharp. It burns. Better not fuckin’ sink your schnoz too deep in that glass, partner. Better sneak up on it cause this Texas rye means bidness.

Aw shit yeah. You like the smell of wood? Hope you do cause this smells like a cross-cut saw just ripped through a tree trunk and spewed sawdust into the air. Damn, you can just imagine those Texas boys rolling wooden casks around in the heat. But hell, if you don’t like wood you’re probably on the wrong side of the Atlantic, am I right?

Fuck this smelling bullshit though. I’m drinking it. NOW.

POW! Jeezus! Oh, hurt me so good. Okay look, do not add water to this whiskey. I don’t care if it’s cask strength. You gotta give it a chance to kick your ass straight up. You gotta give a whiskey a chance before you wuss out and start adding water.

Sour. Burning. Bitter. Wood, like you licked a board. Sweet but like blackstrap molasses. There is SO DAMN much going on. This whiskey is packed with personality.

Fuck you, I’m a Texas rye. You want easy? Maybe try Kentucky or Tennessee or somewhere up in yankee land.

This whiskey wants to fight and you better fight it. Because fighting shows you the goddam mettle of a whiskey. It’s got everything. Every damn thing. Pain, spice, sweet, wood, fear, love, joy.

I swear to God this may be my new favorite whiskey.

Fucking Balcones. The ballsiest, most interesting distillery in Texas.

  • Cade Edwards

    That is exactly what I wanted to hear about their Rye! I love Balcones because it doesn’t try and be nice. They make great whiskeys that take you out back, punch you in the gut, and then hands you another glass knowing you are going to say yes.

    • We’re cut from the same cloth, you and me. If you’re ever in San Antonio, give a shout.

      • Cade Edwards

        I’ll hold you to that.

  • Matthew Zitrick

    Got to try the Balcones Rye a week ago when the rep had it in his bag of whiskey. He was promoting the other awesome shit they make, but he happened to have the rye to try if you knew to ask. It will definatley kick your ass like all Balcones do. It is fucking great and tastes like no other rye I have tasted. Lots of expresso and dark chocolate. Smells and tastes great. Balcones is definitely fuck you whiskey just the way I like it. Your blog is awesome by the way.

    • Oh man, you’re a kindred spirit for sure. Like I told Cade Edwards below, if either of you fellas are in San Antonio, give a shout. I will provide some whiskey and we will sit at my kitchen table and drink the hell out of it! And thanks for the word on my writing too. Preciate that.

      • Matthew Zitrick

        Ok I will hold you to it. I am sure it would be one of the best times ever with whiskey. Also if you are ever up in DFW I would be glad to do the same for you. Love hearing about all those little west Texas towns. I have friends from San Saba so it reminds me of my college days out in San Angelo.

        • Matthew Zitrick

          Got to try the Cask Strength Rye on Saturday night when we had a MB gathering to celebrate the patreon supporters of the vault. Balcones rep came and brought it with him. It was fucking awesome. Top 3 best rye’s I have ever tasted. Truly fucking amazing shit. If anybody gets a chance to try it dont be scared rather embrace that shit and drink the hell out of it.

  • Bill Finley

    Fuck it sounds like a good kick ads whiskey. I am new to the whole damn thing but Damon it sounds good.

  • Philip Sharp

    I’m not a huge rye fan, but I like a whiskey that will let you know it’s in the room. I’m gonna have to see if I can find any Balcones products here in Ohio. Also, screw the fancy reviews. You have a way of cutting through the BS and hitting the important points that I really appreciate and enjoy.

    • Agreed. Love me some Boosh. Tell it straight, crude, and real.

  • John in the Ouachita Mountains

    That review gives me the imperative: seek out Balcones and give the cask strength rye a try. I hope Balcones has distribution in Little Rock. If not, I may arrange for a Texas-Arkansas rye run. To hell with legal distribution if it can’t keep up with demand.

    • You will not regret it. In my view, the three must have Balcones whiskeys are their classic Single Malt. The Bluecorn 130 proof bourbon, and now their rye. I think all three of these are special whiskeys. By that I mean very fucking unique. Distinctive. Something to offer the world of whiskey.