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Veterans of the distillation world will tell you that a growing trend among commercial mega-distillers is the flavoring of cheaply manufactured neutral grain spirits. Some products are comprised entirely of flavored neutral grain while other products blend neutral grain products with products distilled using traditional methods. Again, coloring agents, sweeteners, and other additives are included to fake the taste of traditionally distilled and aged products.
Fortunately for the masses, craft distilling is the new craft brewing. The number of micro distilleries in the US more than doubled between 2006 and 2012. With these new entrants into the spirit manufacturing market have come a whole host of new and unique products. Some of the new products have been made using the "new age" methods now described above. However, others have chosen to differentiate themselves by spicing up old fashioned distillation processes with exciting new ingredients. One such example is the Balcones Distillery's "Baby Blue," blue corn whiskey. The ingredients list: 100% atole blue corn.
Before I offer my take, i'll note that Baby Blue has won more than half a dozen awards, including a gold medal at the 2010 American Distilling Institute Whisky Competition. Though, here's my opinion: Baby Blue is fresh, unique, and bold, and every bit of this can be smelled and tasted in the final product. In other words, it's a bit too bold for me. In the words of one critic: "Why this wasn’t left in the barrel for another three or four years is a mystery to me."
I've honestly tasted much smoother (and better) whiskey made by good ol boys under the light of the moon. I was surprised to learn that it has ranked well in competition and among most critics....but maybe this is why i'm not an expert. Despite the fact that I don't care much for Baby Blue, i'd encourage that you have a taste of some and decide for yourself. I also applaud Balcones for going way out on a limb and making a whiskey comprised solely of truly unique atole blue corn.
Although most folks will just take what they're given, home distillers have the opportunity to buck the system and bypass "government approved" suppliers, making their own high end, traditionally distilled spirits. The beauty of home distilling is that the sky is the limit when it comes to making unique, one of a kind, super small batch whiskeys. If you're interested in making your own blue corn whiskey, we'll give you a head start. Here's a company that sells blue corn seed for a reasonable rate (as far as rare heirloom seed corn goes): Heirloom Acres Seeds. It's about 10 times as expensive as yellow feed corn, but odds are you'll be the only kid on the block with homemade blue corn whiskey, which may just be worth the extra 70 bucks you'll pay for the amount of grain you'll need to make a gallon!