I mentioned a young woman named Shelby in a previous post. Thought I’d take a moment to explain who she is.
The short version is this: Shelby’s dad is the reason I only have one eye. I don’t mean to suggest that he put my eye out in a fight or anything. What I mean is, if it hadn’t been for him I would have lost both eyes. It was a long time ago in a land far away. That’s all I want to say about that. Thing is, I owe him.
He was my preacher at the time, back in a previous life when I was inclined to occasionally attend church. I am no longer so inclined. But that’s another story for another day and probably not of interest to readers of The Boosh.
Anyway, at some point Shelby’s dad got disillusioned with the whole religion thing and dropped out. Then he disappeared. No one knows where he went. So I try to watch out for Shelby in his absence. I check in on her now again, when I hear she’s working at a new bar or has moved to a new city.
These days Shelby is tending bar in San Antonio at an establishment called Park Social. It’s a nice bar. The manager is friendly, willing to chat, and he knows a thing or two about whiskey. I highly recommend Park Social if you want to do some whiskey experimenting with an able guide.
I stopped in there about a week ago and tried a couple of whiskeys I had heard about but never tasted. I didn’t like either one of them. And yet, I’m recommending you try them both. Why? Because the distillery that makes them isn’t afraid to try something new, and I guarantee you haven’t tasted anything like these whiskeys.
The distillery is Balcones in Waco. And the first of their whiskeys I want to tell you about is Brimstone.
I’m assuming, since it seems like everyone in the world is a goddam whiskey snob now, that you’ll want to smell Brimstone first. In this case, you definitely need to do that. And the smell is your first clue that this whiskey is like no other.
It smells like a BBQ pit. That’s it in plain english. There may be notes of this and that if you have a fancy-ass nose but I didn’t smell anything except an old smoker that’s been sitting behind a restaurant for 25 years.
The next thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to tell yourself there is no way this thing tastes like it smells. Then you’ll take a sip. Medicinal. Harsh up front. And then there is a flavor you will struggle to comprehend. I tastes like whiskey that’s been sloshing around in a pan with a burned brisket. Yeah, it does taste like it smells.
I didn’t care for it myself. This is not a whiskey I want to drink regularly or maybe even ever again. But I respect the HELL out of it. Shit yeah. This is a Texas whiskey. And if you live in Texas, I think you owe it to Balcones and all the rest of us to at least give it a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll love it. I hear there’s people in the world that suck eggs and eat bugs like candy. What do I know about anything?
Okay. The second Balcones whiskey I want to tell you about is Baby Blue. This is a 100% corn whiskey, and it’s made with nothing but blue corn. Corn is a sweet grain. That’s why most distillers mix other grains with it. And having tasted this, I’m wondering if Blue Corn isn’t even sweeter than regular corn. Seriously, this whiskey is ridiculous.
I took my first whiff and thought, “What the hell are they doing? Distilling cotton candy?” I smelled it again and ended up with what can only be described as smoky candy corn.
And there’s nothing for me to say about the taste except it tastes like it smells. It is smooth as hell though. Transitions are subtle. Sweet and smooth and then it’s down your gullet leaving nothing more than a kiss on your uvula.
It blows my mind, to tell you the truth. It’s like whiskey made for children. I guess it’s fine for some folks. Trick or treaters mostly. Maybe it’ll work for the carnival crowd. Those morons who somehow made it to their 30s and still like Big Red will fuckin’ love it.
And I say you should taste it.
Because it’s different. Because Balcones is a brave distillery. Because if you drink enough whiskey you eventually realize it’s not always about taste and whether or not you “like” it. I want to like a whiskey. But more than that I want to respect it.
And I respect the hell out of Brimstone and Baby Blue. Damn right I do.