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Issue 141 - Cowboys and Whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 141
January 2017


This article is 19 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Cowboys and Whisky

The blending room at Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas is a bright, airy space with brick walls and white tables. On a hot Monday afternoon in August, dozens of covered Glencairn glasses were laid out and Jared Himstedt and Zach Pilgrim, the distillers, were on a tasting duty. On hand: lots of samples of the flagship Texas Single Malt Whisky, which starts off in five gallon barrels, then blended and aged in 60 gallon barrels.

When Chip Tate, who had a contentious and well-publicised separation from the company, started Balcones in 2008, the distillery was six blocks due south of where it sits today. It was a rather ramshackle affair where they produced two 60 gallon barrels per day by the end of the run. Since they started distilling at the new facility in April 2016, they're producing between 500 and 600 gallons per day. This winter they're expecting the arrival of a second set of stills, which will put them at about 90,000 cases a year. Today the distillery has about four times the capacity of the other building. The original two stills were 1,000 litres each. The spirit still they use today is physically eight times bigger, but capacity is four times bigger. The building can hold up to four pairs of stills.

Winston Edwards, brand manager, walks me through the building, which the company bought in 2011 planning to simply use it as a storage facility. Little did they know how the place, which was completed in 1923, would be Balcones's future.

A grand and weathered vi...

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