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Welcome to the flavor rodeo!
Hold on to your hats, cowboys, a wind of change is blowing through the Lone Star State. During the past decade and a half, Texas has regained its independence. No longer bound by the distilling practices of their northeastern counterparts, the taste of freedom is silky strong and it lingers like that of freshly baked bread.
Come again? Handcrafted Spirits, partner. They’re taking these here parts by storm. Texas has successfully married experimentation with tradition to produce three delicious kindred Spirits of their very own – a Straight Bourbon, a blended Whiskey, and a high-rye Bourbon. We’ve managed to noose samples of each of these bad boys and round them up for tasting. Saddle up!
If you’re heading down to San Antonio, you better respect the local authority: Ranger Creek .36 Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The folks at this "brewstillery” abide by the grain-to-glass law for each and every batch they create, with their flagship Whiskey both distilled and aged on-site. This award-winning sipper matures under the unyielding Texas sun for 2 years into a vibrant and youthful Spirit that's bursting with notes of creamy caramel, velvety butterscotch, and a subtle hint of cinnamon. A perfect way to start exploring the heart of Texas.
Head on up north to Lewisville, and make a stop at the Bendt Distilling Co., a distillery that’s all about crafting top-tier Spirits with a heavy dose of that authentic touch. Bendt No. 5 American Blended Whiskey is the ultimate squad of five remarkable Whiskeys — one of Bourbon, rye, malt, wheat, and light Whiskey — each aged for two years or more and artfully blended until a well-rounded liquid that surpasses the sum of its parts is created.
For your final stop, rest your horse at the first legal distillery in Houston and take a sip of the high-rye Yellow Rose Harris County Bourbon that’s hand-made with 100% Texas-grown grains: Yellow Corn, Elbon rye, and San Jacinto Malted Barley. Not just packed with tasty rye spice, the Whiskey adds starts you off gently with aromas of cherry and brown sugar, tightens its grip with peanuts and warm pecan pie, and ends the ride with cinnamon candy. It’s Texas right to its core.
Before you get Spirited away, check out a few fun facts that’ll make you shake in your boots:
1) In Texas, everything is bigger, Bourbon included. In fact, not only can Texans compete with their Bourbon at home, they’re going global. The renowned Whiskey reviewer and author of the Whiskey Bible, Jim Murray, has ranked Texas Bourbon among the best in the world.
2) Crank up the heat. While its northeastern Spirit cousins have four complete seasons, Texas can pack four seasons into one week. These shifts in temperature, from 90 to 135, strongly affect how Whiskey interacts with the wood of the barrel, giving Texas Spirits their unique flavor.
3) Extra small barrels with an extra-large wallop. Besides naming their Spirits after ancient firearms, Ranger Creek uses small barrels, which dramatically speeds up the aging process, producing an incredibly mature Rye Whiskey in under 19 months.
4) Good for business. Historically, Texas farmlands haven’t been used for barley. Until now. The new ‘Spiritual’ movement has prompted farmers to grow barley specifically for Whiskey production. And with Texas being the second largest US market for Spirits, it’s a perfect hand-in-glove situation.