Move over Kentucky, Texas has become a legitimate contender in whiskey production. Whether you are offering a glass of the good stuff to potential clients or winding down after a major merger, here are our top picks of Texas whiskey.
As the first and oldest legal whiskey distillery in Texas, Garrison Brothers produces its Texas Straight Bourbon from the finest ingredients, including organic yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle, organic winter wheat grown on location and two-row barley from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Notes of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, nutmeg and coconut hit the nose before the first sip. The finish is smooth and buttery like a warm caramelized sugar.
Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson founded Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., the only artisanal bourbon whiskey distillery in North Texas, in 2010. So what makes Firestone & Robertson so special? It’s in the yeast. In addition to capturing their own proprietary yeast strain, they also carry out on-site yeast propagation. Something else that sets them apart is what can be found at the top of any bottle of TX Whiskey. Designed in Robertson’s wood shop at home, each cap portrays a unique sample of Western craftsmanship. F&R uses leather, often repurposed from donated boots, and handmade tools to create the custom-made corks. TX Blended Whiskey has a complex spectrum of fragrance including vanilla bean, oak and pear. The palate next detects honey butter, banana, caramel and coffee, followed by a smooth, slightly sweet finish.
Located in Waco, Balcones started seven years ago in an old welding shop under a bridge. They hammered and welded their own stills and added to the original structure to create the distillery used today. The Texas Single Malt gives off aromas of toffee and overripe fruits upon opening. Layers of toasted malt and honey lead the way to more mellow notes of pear and apple with a long finish of cinnamon and cloves.
Mike Cameron and Steve Ison founded Rebecca Creek Distillery in San Antonio in 2009. Described by its creators as “a taste profile set between the light body of a Canadian whiskey and the full flavor of a bourbon whiskey,” Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Whiskey has won numerous awards. It’s unique because it goes through a 28-degree frost filtration system. Aromas are spicy and woody with a touch of vanilla and dried herbs. The taste is peppery with a clean and slightly bitter finish.
The property that for decades produced Ranch Style Beans in Fort Worth has a new tenant. Trinity River Distillery now puts out Texas Silver Star Spirit Whiskey and Texas Honey Liquer at this site. Bruce Conti recently became a major investor. According to its label, it “is a tribute to the Texas cowboy of the Chisholm Trail and is meticulously hand-crafted using nothing but the finest ingredients and aged to perfection.” Made from corn, wheat, barley and rye and aged to perfection in new charred American white oak casks, Texas Silver Star Whiskey is smooth with every sip.
Whiskey is a general term given to distilled spirits made from grain mash. Similar in taste and appearance, bourbon and scotch are types of whiskey. What differentiates types of whiskey depends on the location in which it is distilled, the type of casks used, the types of grains used and the length of aging. There are also rules and regulations that govern each type of whiskey. For instance, you can’t make scotch outside of Scotland.
If you are looking for the highest-quality whiskey, search for these terms:
Some whiskeys are diluted with water before bottling to decrease the alcohol level by nearly 40 percent alcohol-by-volume (abv) in order to take some of the edge off. Whiskeys that are bottled at the same level of abv as when it is aging in the barrel are termed “barrel proof” or “cask strength.” These whiskeys come from barrels that are typically stored in locations where they aren’t exposed to great fluctuations in temperatures, which means they don’t lose as much water from evaporation.
Bonded whiskey must be produced by one distiller during one distillation season. Federally regulated to be 100 proof and aged for four years, there are only around 20 labels that carry this designation.
For when “neat” or “on the rocks” just won’t do…
• 1 sugar cube
• 2 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
• 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• lemon peel
Muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water in an Old- Fashioned glass. Add ice cubes, whiskey and both types of bitters. Stir well and strain into a second, chilled glass that has been coated with a few drops of absinthe. Garnish drink with a twist of lemon peel.
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