Review: Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky and Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey Bottled-in-Bond
Corn whiskey and bourbon – what’s the difference? Both have at least 51% corn in the mash bill. However, when the corn content gets cranked up to 80%, it can be labeled as corn whiskey. And unlike bourbon, corn whiskey does not need to be aged in new charred oak.
For those who tend to look for a sweeter bourbon, venturing into corn whiskey may be worthwhile. And for those who also enjoy something unique, then we definitely recommend Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky.
Baby Blue is unique for two reasons. First, it is the first whiskey distilled in Texas since Prohibition. It is distilled at the Balcones distillery in Waco, Texas. It also purports to be the first and only blue corn whiskey in the world. It is made of 100% blue corn, aged in small oak casks for at least 6 months, and not chill filtered.
Though 6 months is obviously short, aging the whiskey in a small cask (probably no more than 5 gallons) helps accelerate the aging process. This, in addition to not filtering prior to bottling, helps give the whiskey a much darker color (easily noticeable in the picture at the top of the post) than would be expected. Balcones also says they add no color to the whiskey.
But Baby Blue’s uniqueness is most evident in its taste.
Here are our notes:
Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky (BB 16-1, 92 proof)
Nose: Pie crust; has almost a light Speyside Scotch characteristic; salted butter; roasted corn; caramel (3/5).
Palate: Rich, vanilla frosted corn bread; salted corn nuts; baking spices; caramel (3.5/5).
Finish: Medium; sweet vanilla; melted butter (2.5/5).
For a whiskey that is less than a year old, this inherited a wonderful spectrum of oak flavors. This, coupled with the unique roasted corn mash, produces something that is not just unique, but unique in a good way. The value ($50) and finish bring this overall score down a bit, but I’m still left satisfied due to the uniqueness.
For comparison, and to illustrate how this bottle takes you completely by surprise, we revisited another corn whiskey – Mellow Corn.
When we previously reviewed Mellow Corn, we determined that for its price tag, it definitely over-performs. Here are the tasting notes we previously compiled:
Nose: Vanilla and corn, backed by a nice scent of oak. There is a soft green fruitiness under the vanilla. It has some burn at 100 proof, which is to be expected at $11, but it is not overpowering or off-putting.
Palate: Hot, as can be expected, but otherwise exactly as the nose would suggest. The mouthfeel is fuller than I’d expect, not coating or oily, just notably not thin, almost silky.
Finish: Definitely the weakest point, but by no means awful. Hot medium-length finish with fleeting vanilla and spice. All you are left with is corn and maybe that green fruitiness. A bit more complexity would be nice, but that might up the price to $15.
The complexity that is lacking (but not surprisingly) from Mellow Corn is at the forefront for Baby Blue. When considering that Mellow Corn spent at least 4 years in oak, and Baby Blue less than a year, it seems that the results should be reversed.
We have to tip our hats to Balcones for this one. It’s refreshing to see a new spin on a product work as well as this.