Balcones Cataleja Texas Single Malt Celebrates The Distillery’s 15th Anniversary

As one of the first legal whiskey distilleries in Texas, Waco-based Balcones has always been a pioneer. But that reputation wasn’t earned simply because they began distilling in Texas before almost anyone else; it’s also because they’ve consistently put out some of the state’s most interesting and experimental spirits.

For starters, there’s Baby Blue, a whiskey made from roasted blue corn that showed drinkers a new side of corn whiskey. Brimstone is smoked with Texas scrub oak and reminiscent of a liquid campfire. And Texas 1 Single Malt, which was released in 2010, has continued to stand out from the pack in a state that’s awash in bourbon. But the most interesting spirit to date is also the newest: Balcones Cataleja Texas Single Malt, which was released in late-October to celebrate the distillery’s 15th anniversary.

Balcones Cataleja Texas Single Malt is made with 100% Golden Promise malted barley. It began its maturation journey in barrels that previously held Kentucky bourbon, and after three years of aging in the hot Texas climate, the spirit was transferred to four types of sherry casks—moscatel, amontillado dulce, oloroso and palo cortado—that were sourced from a variety of Spanish bodegas.

“Cataleja Texas Single Malt is one of the most complex and unique whiskies we’ve made,” said Jared Himstedt, the head distiller at Diageo-owned Balcones Distilling. He calls the new release a testament to the brand’s commitment to exploration and experimentation, and an ode to whiskey makers of the past. “It is our way of honoring the makers who’ve come before us, using the best of the techniques and the ingredients that they had at their disposal.”

Putting it all together, old world barley is subjected to traditional techniques, including copper pot distillation, long open fermentations, aging in customized casks suited to the local climate, and wine finishes.

“We each had our own vision of Cataleja, what it might become, and its individual character,” said Himstedt. “Even now that it’s here, it’s more distinctive than we imagined. This process showcases our continued commitment to engaging with our whiskey in a meaningful way to create unique, expressive flavors.”

Balcones Cataleja Tasting Notes

On the nose, the spirit is bright with fruit, oak and spice, including notes of brandied figs, sherry-soaked wood and dried apricots. The palate is rich and full. Dates, brown butter and baking spices lead the charge, followed by citrus peels, more fruit and cooling herbs. At 59% ABV, it’s warm but not overpowering. And the finish is long and complex—you could chew on this one for hours, sipping slowly by the fire or wherever you do your best sipping.

Balcones Cataleja Texas Single Malt is a limited-release, so if you want a bottle, it’s best to snag one sooner rather than later. It’s available to purchase at select retailers in Texas, California, Illinois, Colorado, New York and Florida, and it can also be ordered online at for $125.

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