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 – Bourbon, Rye and Single Malt. 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 might Remember the Alamo, but you definitely won’t forget Alamo Black Label Bourbon. Crafted from top-notch grains and aged in American oak barrels, this rich, bold Bourbon hits all those sweet notes, then brings you down for a smooth landing. A perfect way to start exploring the heart of Texas.
Since you’re in the neighborhood, you shouldn’t skip town without a shot of .44 Rye. You know it’s true Texan if it has a gun barrel diameter in its name. But it’s Ranger Creek’s used Bourbon barrels that help this Rye Whiskey hit its mark. It starts you off gently with cinnamon and mint, tightens its grip with clove and tobacco, and ends the ride with warm bread crust. Talk about Texas hospitality.
Travelling up north to Waco, it’s time to revisit our ole friends at Balcones Distilling. Combining classic techniques with contemporary ways of crafting, they pay homage to centuries of American distilling tradition. And the result is their silky Texas Single Malt Whiskey that’s an explosion of fruity flavors, it’s long finish nothing short of the very definition of Malt.
Before you get Spirited away, check out a few fun facts that’ll make you shake in your boots:
1) Young but feisty. It was only 2006 that the Garrison Brothers Distillery was granted the first distilling permit for Bourbon outside of Kentucky and Tennessee, making it the oldest legal Bourbon distillery in Texas. But don’t let numbers fool you, the Texan Bourbon boom is booming as we drink.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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 under 19 months.
5) 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.
What's in the box
1 American Whiskey
Dog Dogson'sSmartass corner
Balcones was one of the first distilleries to experiment with exotic corn varieties for its Bourbons, including blue corn.
On New Year’s Eve 2014, co-founders Daniel Taylor and Noel Burns started brainstorming ideas for a business they could start together and after about 20 minutes they decided to start their own distillery.