Sample Review: Balcones Brimstone Texas Scrub Oak Smoked Whisky

Photo credit: Balcones Distillery (@balconesdistilling)

This is a weirdo whisky from Balcones Distillery (@balconesdistilling). Thanks to Sean Kincaid (@seankincaid) for this sample!

This Brimstone expression is made with 100% blue corn. After distillation, they somehow pump Texas scrub oak smoke into the distillate itself. It is then aged for about two years and bottled at 53% abv.

Nose: How to even describe this nose. It’s super young, that’s for sure. I get the sensation of walking through a desert after a brush fire. It’s still smouldering a little. Burnt corn husks for sure. Very dusty corn grain. There’s a freshly sawn wood note lingering in the background. I’m not really getting much sweetness on the nose except for burnt brown sugar. A deeply roasted corn note comes up after a long while in the glass. That smokiness is pretty intense and kind of masks some of the notes I traditionally expect in an American whisky. Unless you’ve had this already, your guess is as good as mine as to how this is going to taste.

Palate: OK. There’s the corn whisky sweetness now. It’s still a weirdo, but at least I’ve found my bearings a little. The entry is frosted flakes, roasted corn, sponge toffee and a little bit of vanilla. The smoke sets in pretty quickly as does the youthful heat. It’s like I’m roasting corn on the BBQ, open the lid and inhale a bit of the smoke. The smoky sweet interplay is lovely. There’s some wood shavings in the development as well as some cinnamon. It’s teetering on the edge of being too bitter without falling off the cliff.

Finish: The heat falls away pretty quickly, but the slightly charred corn note sticks around for a while. There’s a little bit of dark chocolate as well. On the last couple of sips, the finish gets a little sweeter. It’s like I’m biting into that charred corn now, only with this whisky, it’s not getting stuck between my teeth.


This is one of those whiskies you give to people at the end of a tasting and say “What do you think of this?” It’s bound to knock some people sideways, that’s for sure. And, if that happens, I’d say “Mission accomplished!”

Honestly, I don’t think this whisky is for everybody. However, if you like corn whisky, as I do, I would definitely seek this one out.

Instagram: @paul.bovis