Balcones Lineage (Batch SML20-2), 47%

Price: $40 Issue: Winter 2020 Reviewer: Susannah Skiver Barton

As American single malt ascends, Balcones shows its leadership with this triumphant offering. It's bursting with tropical fruits—kiwi, mango, guava, jackfruit—buttressed by undercurrents of cinnamon, dried chiles, blueberry muffins, and nuts. Those juicy ripe fruits remain intense on the palate, two-stepping with cocoa powder, barrel char, roasted pecans, and black pepper; the dance sweeps into a lengthy finish of grilled pineapple, mocha, and tobacco, tapering off into bitter chocolate and oak. Balcones is putting both American single malt and the state of Texas on the map. Number 17 in the 2020 Top 20