Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Balcones, Woodinville, Frey Ranch Tastings

I’ve been doing more tastings… Some I’ve enjoyed, some I’ve been disappointed in. Few I missed because I’ve misjudged my interest level but I’m griping at the free tastings… Time to score. These will mostly cover core ranges with few selectively different samples.

Balcones Lineup

Balcones Straight Bourbon, Pot Still, 46%
Light notes of fresh scorched roofing tar. The same few tar notes stick around to corn-forward the palate, but really they aren’t that bad and more than remind me of Texas BBQ. Basically charry bbq corn? Yeah I can see this. Rye spice and wood notes round off the experience. Drinkable and worth trying at a bar in Texas. Repeated tastings bring up a some more of that tar or barrel char bitterness in the back which I’m not truly enjoying. Frankly the more I am drinking it the less I’m enjoying it.
Score: C-

Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey, 46%
Made from roasted blue corn aged in wood for at least 6 months, no babies were harmed in making of this. Corn and a bit of a newmake on the nose, rather funky. The palate actually does remind me of a roasted corn profile. The aftertaste is mellow and medium or so. It’s… it’s actually rather pleasant. I expected this to be the Mellow Corn disaster, but this is really not too bad. The complexity is really coming from that caramelized corn sugars in the roast rather from the casks but the wood pleasantly mellows it out and adds a little bit of vanilla in. I’m very pleasantly surprised overall on this… A solid pour worth trying with a BBQ or something. I can see this going along quite well with food. It’s not complicated but it is tasty.
Score: B-

Balcones Rye, 50%
At least 15 months in oak. Rye rye rye. This is interesting profile. Some of those same tar notes from bourbon show up here too transforming into chocolate in the palate and coffee in the reasonably long aftertaste. Honestly this is NOT my thing. Basically the bourbon is here, but rye forwards vs corn forward. Frankly not a fan.
Score: D+

Frey Ranch Lineup

Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon. 45%
A four grain straight bourbon out of Nevada farm-to-table family owned distillery. A little alcohol-forward nose with lots of corn. The palate is quite interestingly mellow going from corn to rye to a mellow wheat flavors. Quite pleasant, very slightly medicinal with rye and overall very good @work i think. Tons and tons and layers of flavor here yet still staying subtle and mellow enough. For a regular release that’s super high marks to achieve.
Score: B

Frey Ranch Straight Rye, 50%
Non-chill filtered and Bottled-in-bond rye? I guess… Very mint forward on the nose. Rye and mint on the palate and then orchard fruit (apples?) on the aftertaste. I’m usually very rye-picky but this is actually quite tasty. The mint may be a turn off for some drinkers and is certainly not my favorite flavor in a drink typically but this one really works. Good stuff. Would totally love to see their cask strength rye.
Score: B+

Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon, Plumpjack SP, 64.23%
A really really tiny sample of this because… well because I kept sneaking little sips out… Warm woody and delicious. Little burny as is evidenced by the proof but not too bad overall. Little drying on the tongue with wood flavors and in the aftertaste. Quite a treat and knowing that Frey Ranch is farm-to-table a hard call to pass up. It was recently at PlumpJack for $95… I actually passed because of personal reasons but this is rather quite good with little to complaint about other than the price. This is closer to a wheated mashbills of Weller because their bourbon is four grain so expect less Stagg more Weller Full Proof.
Score: A-

Woodinville Lineup:

Woodinville Straight Bourbon, 45%
Not repeating myself… https://www.aerin.or … y:entry191220-085943 Perhaps just a tad charcoal bitterness comes up in the continued sipping. But omg it is good in a manhattan and great @work.
Score Finally: B-

Woodinville Straight Rye 100%, 45%
Not repeating myself… https://www.aerin.or … y:entry200731-205036
Score Repeat: C

Woodinville Straight Bourbon, Port Finish, 45%
Bourbon finished in Port? Sure! As a side note, Uproxx, website been praising this as if it’s a nectar of the gods… I don’t really buy their assessment. So let’s finally make my own mind up. The nose is sweet red wine, as expected. Though honestly it smells more like a cheap fortified sweet red dessert wine. The palate is mostly sweet with woody dryness of the regular bourbon, mostly balanced out by the sweetness of the port. On the aftertaste the sweetness slowly fades as does the dryness so basically slow fade from the palate. Medium length and nothing new really shows up on the aftertaste yet again lacking subtle flavors. Yet again, too young. I think I like this slightly more than the regular edition but either way it’s nothing amazing to write home about with plenty of more interesting choices out there. Worth a bar tab though as a dessert due to sweetness.
Score: B

Woodinville Triple Barrel Blended, 45.5%
From Woodinville Website: “initially aged in new, heavy-toasted, lightly charred American oak barrels. After a stay in the new oak barrels, it is re-barreled into used bourbon barrels for additional aging and mellowing. Finally, it is re-barreled a third time into used Islay Scotch barrels.” Something new and different. a bit of a barrel finish if you will. Smells like and old smoker or a cold bbq grill. The palate is salty and smokey with some sweetness. Aftertaste is mostly same but fading gently. This heavily reminds me of a non-greasy hot smoked salmon… and I like hot smoked salmon. This is one of those whiskey profiles I really enjoy, especially if done right. There’s one problem though. It’s young and has no subtle flavors to back itself up on when primary flavors are gone. Extremely good effort but needs to be at least few years older here. I want more but I will also not buy it. Well worth trying for fans of gentle peat and it’s very rare to see smoke in bourbon (yes yes, I’m aware of High West Campfire… but like it’s the only other one commonly available).
Score: B

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown