1 December 2016

Whisky Insiders Interview - Winston Edwards

Balcones Distilling

Distillery Ambassador


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I started working with Balcones just over four years ago, but I’ve been involved with the whisky industry in some form since 2008.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
The recent opening of our new distillery really does surpass all previous highlights in my whisky career. I remember stepping foot in that building, exactly five years ago last week and imagining how amazing it would be one day, and much to my surprise, it turned out even better than I could have possibly visualized. It is incredibly rewarding to see what some people very close to me have accomplished, and to be a part of it. It’s almost as if the dream is over, and now we get to wake up and live it.
If I had to pick something slightly more personal and amusing, another big highlight was discovering that one of my biggest musical influences growing up is a fan of Balcones. Thanks to that, he’s now an acquaintance of mine. It’s amazing the kind of opportunities this business affords you!
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
I’m going to assume that by “dram” we’re referring to the first glass of whisky I truly enjoyed. For me that would be Woodford Reserve. I had been dabbling in some fairly common blended scotch but never found anything that really piqued my senses. Then along came a friend with a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. I had tried bourbon before, but nothing I would admit to today. One sip and I was hooked, I was now a diehard bourbon drinker. This eventually led to me attending the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy at the distillery, where a week in Kentucky opened me up to many new whiskies I had never even heard of. It was all downhill from there and I spent many hours and even days feeling the effects of the whisky bug, chasing down rare, old and allocated bottles.

What does whisky mean to you?
Whisky means a lot of things to me. For one, it’s an artisanal product, the culmination of efforts by a group of people to create something that delights us. There’s something special about that because it takes a lot of time to make something worthwhile, and I can’t help but respect that kind of patience.

Whisky of course is my job, but it’s not just about being my livelihood. Rather, it’s more about being involved in something I truly believe in, and getting to interact with that product and the people that make it almost every day. To us, whisky is a way of life, one that we are immensely grateful for.

Last but not least, like most people that drink whisky, it’s something that pleases my senses. I’ve always been big on food, which grew into a love for wine and beer, and whisky is like the pinnacle of manmade beverages. It’s an experience that can excite me much in the same was as music, which is another one of my passions.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years' time?
Japan, Australia, Germany… who knows. We get a lot of international interest in Balcones and I’d love to help grow our presence abroad. Of course we have lots of work to do in Texas first, never mind the rest of the country, but I really look forward to the day that I can start showing the rest of the world just how special what we do is.

What was your last dram?
One of our commemorative editions from the opening event we had two weeks ago, a cask strength version of Baby Blue. I was just at the distillery giving a tour and helped myself to a taste. Less than 500 bottles were made and were only sold exclusively at the distillery. It’s a curious approach we took with the whisky, which typically ages in small oak casks. This particular rendition went into 60-gallon American oak that had been refilled a few times already, so it allowed us to mature the spirit much longer and develop the grain flavour, while still maintaining the lighter wood profile of Baby Blue.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Food and whisky are tricky with me, I’m more likely to enjoy a beer or wine while eating. But, honestly, I don’t think there is a better pairing than a good whisky and chocolate. Lots to be said about how they complement and contrast each other.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
Late night gatherings with my friends are my favourite time and place to have a whisky. It’s great fun to gather around a few special bottles of whisky and share something excellent together.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I think this is good time for craft whisky to graduate and become a serious player in the industry. People are starting to care more and more about where what they consume comes from, and hyper local spirits will be a big extension of that foodie movement.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Besides Balcones, right? For me that would be Four Roses Single Barrel. That is just such an immediately accessible but delicious whisky. I think I may have to grab one now…

Many thanks to Winston Edwards. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!

28 November 2016

Balcones Tweet Tasting IIII

Continuing our hugely successful triumphant teeming thong of Twitter trending Tweet Tastings, we’re thrilled and delighted to announce that on December 19th, we’ll be teaming up once again with our very good friends at Balcones Distilling, for another epic evening of all things Texan.

Following another epic year for the Waco based distillery, who have just officially opened their new distillery, we’re very much looking forward sharing, sipping and savouring a gaggle of their glorious expressions, which will just happen to include a few brand new limited editions.

We’re not revealing the final line up just yet, but trust me when I say, it will make the perfect spirited start to the week leading up to Christmas.

We’re also delighted to announce that on the night we’ll be joined by Head Distiller Jared Himstedt and Brand & Distillery Ambassador Winston Edwards, who’ll not only be tweeting in on the action but on hand to answer all your questions on all things Balcones.

If you would like to be one of our lucky tweet tasters, pouring and exploring some of Texas’s finest, click here to register by emailing your name, address and Twitter handle, remembering to mark the subject line #BalconesWhisky

The closing date to register is December 2nd, and if you are registering to take part please make sure that you will actually be free on the evening of December 19th to take part!!!

Even if you're not one of the selected Tweet Tasters, it'd be great to have you following all the evenings dramfotainment. So we look forward to seeing you over on Twitter on December 19th at 7pm GMT via #BalconesWhisky

Registration open to over 18's only!

For more information on Balcones, visit: balconesdistilling.com



Be part of the dramfotainment!

23 November 2016

The Whisky Wire's 12 Drams of Christmas 2016

For the last six years, we’ve brought you our ’12 Drams of Christmas’ as chosen by you! So, we thought it would only be rude not to do the same again this year, and use it as a great excuse to start getting into the festive spirit.
Between now and Friday December 9th, we’d love to hear your nominations for your favourite festive drops of dramspankage. Then on Monday the 12th of December, we’ll publish the list of the Top 12 drams as chosen by you in ranking order. We’ll also include retail detail, so they can be enjoyed by all over the festive period and indeed beyond.

To take part click here and email us your top three favourite festive whiskies, that we’ll then use to help compile our ’12 Drams of Christmas 2016’. Please remember to mark the subject line of your email '12 Drams of Christmas’.

Everyone who enters will automatically have their name added into our virtual Santa hat, for a chance to win a bottle of last years ’12 Drams of Christmas’ number 1 dram: The Glenlivet 18 Year Old. We’ll also throw in two guaranteed spaces to any of our Tweet Tastings in 2017. The winner will be selected and notified on December 14th. Hootendrammy!

Which drams will make the final 12?
You decide!
t&c’s You must be over 18 years of age enter in the UK and over the legal drinking age of your respective country if entering outside the UK. Competition closes on December 9th 2016.

21 November 2016

Whisky Insiders Interview - Paul Hletko

FEW Spirits

Founder & Distiller


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I’ve now been working in the world of whisky now for about 6 years.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
The biggest highlights so far are being named Whisky Advocate Magazine’s Craft Whisky of the Year.  I’ve also managed to meet and work with amazing people, ranging from other whiskey people, to musicians, artists, craftsman, bartenders, chefs, and more.  Whisky moves across categories and brings creative people together!

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
The first dram that I remember was Makers Mark, but the first one I truly enjoyed, which also floored me was Eagle Rare.

What does whisky mean to you?
To me whisky means friends and family. Whisky is celebration, whisky is sharing the good times, whisky is sharing the bad, whisky is art that brings people together!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I’d like to see myself with a great dram of whisky and a group of friends, celebrating friends’ success!

What was your last dram?
My last dram was Few Bourbon, on the rocks. Tasty!

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I probably should, but it’s so mood dependent for me. I do love whisky and beef though, bourbon and BBQ are such a natural combination!

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
In front of a fire, with friends.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
The next big thing is already here, and that is the continued rise of craft whisky!

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Few, of course!

Many thanks to Paul Hletko. Who will be our next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!