By Richard Thomas
In the United States, the words “blended whiskey” are usually associated with cheap rotgut. To cite just one particularly infamous example, Four Roses went from a popular Bourbon to an unpopular American blend before being revived into what is now a popular Bourbon again. Many Canadian whiskies have a dubious reputation for precisely this reason, and unsurprisingly Four Roses took its downward turn under the now defunct Canadian whisky giant Seagram.
That said, “blended whiskey” doesn’t need to be a dirty word, as a number of Irish and Scottish blends prove. It’s not the concept that is flawed. Instead, it’s the use the concept has generally been put to on this side of the Atlantic.
Bucking that trend is the Texas distillery Firestone & Robertson, who have fashioned an American blend from (reportedly) straight bourbon and whiskeys matured in ex-bourbon barrels (i.e. something like Early Times), as well as neutral grain spirits. Federal law suggests the whiskeys used in the blend must be at least four years old, because if they weren’t an age statement would be required. The result was bottled at 82 proof.
This American blend has a light, but rich coppered coloring in the glass, straddling the line between full-on, brightly burnished copper and deep gold. A swish and coating of the glass prompts a literal curtain of legs to drop.
The nose is a subtle, somewhat (and surprisingly) sophisticated experience. Predominately and thickly sweet with honey and caramel mixed with baked apples, there is also a tiny toasted note to it as well. I would almost describe the latter note as giving the scent a Cracker Jack aspect, were it not more nutty than corny. In any case, there is plenty of aroma in a glass of TX Blended Whiskey to give you something to study.
On the palate, the creamy liquid yields more buttery, baked apple flavors, thickly enhanced with butterscotch and honey, and seasoned with a dash of honey. While not as subtle as the nose, the flavor still delivers satisfaction.
I found the finish to run lighter, being a little warm and with a speck of that toastiness there at the start. That rapidly drops out, however, leaving only a butterscotched sweetness.
Expect to pay about $40 for a 750 ml bottle.