Whisky Marks

Updated April 18, 2014

Balcones Straight Single Malt, Sweet

Balcones Fifth Anniversary Texas Straight Malt Whisky–Sweet

Balcones Distillery, Waco, Texas; Singlemalt; NAS; 57.5% ABV; Barrel #2653; Bottle 136 of 181; Bottled December, 20 2013

by Sean Fousheé

This release is part of Balcones’ limited (and they do mean limited) release of five single barrel expressions to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Distillery’s operations. Among this bottling of Straight Single Malt, the Fifth Anniversary series includes two releases of Texas Straight Bourbon; a special, one-off version of their Brimstone, named Resurrection; and a second bottling of Straight Single Malt that was finished in the Resurrection cask (apply designated as Straight Single Malt—Smoke).

All of Balcones’ single malt batches are grain to glass, twice distilled in traditional copper pots which were hand crafted by Balcones’ Head Distiller, Chip Tate. Tate, whom interned at the Bruichladdich Distillery, distills his whiskies in the traditional Scottish-style, which includes the use of imported Golden Promise malted barley from a small farm in the UK. The traditional distilling methods are the foundation upon which Tate has crafted a unique wood program to utilize the Texas heat in the maturation process which he hopes will create a new category of brown spirits: Texas Whisky.

Glenlivet Alpha

The Glenlivet Alpha α

The Glenlivet Distillery, Scotland; Singlemalt; NAS; 50% ABV; Cask Unknown*; Bottled 2013-03-10; Lot 0414

by Sean Fousheé

It was fourteen years ago this month, June 26, 1999 — a few weeks before my 22nd birthday, that I was first introduced to whisky by my father; the event was my wedding reception. Having just finished the traditional customs of dancing, cutting cake, and throwing my new wife's lacy undergarments at my best men; my father, grand-father, and I retired to the venue's balcony to toast my nuptials. Overlooking the skyline of downtown San Antonio, and trying our best not to to spontaneously combust in the more than 100°F Texas heat, my father produced a bundle of Padrón cigars (@PadronCigar) and ordered us a dram of scotch whisky; his whisky of choice? The Glenlivet (@The_Glenlivet). So, it's poetic that exactly fourteen years after I took my first step into the world of whisky that I've been asked to review a new expression from my 'first-love' and that it's name, Alpha (α), is Greek for "the beginning".

Lark Cask Strength

Lark Cask Strength

Lark Distillery, Tasmania; Singlemalt; NAS; 58% ABV; Cask #658; Bottled in 2010

by Sean Fousheé

Say it with me, T-A-S-M-A-N-I-A-N whisky — an expression from 'down-under'! The Lark distillery is located in the town of Hobart, Tasmania, and only produces a little over 14,000 liters annually. This was a bottle I had to track down, but with the help of Lark's Master Distiller, Chris Thomson, I was able to special order a bottle towards the end of 2012. Lark is a unique whisky from Tasmania, that uses a specially developed Tasmanian barley and smoked using locally cultivated peat — yes, you ready that right bog heads, Tasmanian peat! The provenance of the ingredients in combination with the maturation in 100 liter Port Quarter Casks creates a whisky that is sweet and fruity, while a smokiness wafts around the edges. I had planned on reviewing the Cask Strength Lark during my Christmas break, but a sudden outbreak of the flu brought to our house by visiting family put off my plans until February of this year.

If A Distiller 'Made' Whisky, Did They Actually Make It?

Words have meaning, are labels properly communicating to customers?

by Sean Fousheé

The other day I was browsing my local liquor store, looking for a couple of whiskies for an upcoming event, when I came across a distillery representative that was pouring a new bourbon labeled as a 'Texas Bourbon'. As shoppers huddled around the rep, wanting to learn more about the new Texas distillery, he stated proudly that this bourbon was 'made' in Texas. Knowing what I do about Texas craft distillers, including one that is winning award after award for their soon-to-be released Texas Bourbon, I had my doubts. Picking up a bottle I scanned the label and confirmed my suspicions; printed on the bottom of the back label were the words "Made by ________ in _______, TX" (distillery and city redacted). I looked up to see the rep, engaged with the crowd, continuing to extol the virtues of his new and exciting local craft distillery. As I put the bottle back on his table he looked over and asked me if I had any questions, and against my better judgement to just shake my head and walk away, I opened my mouth.