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  • June 21, 2019 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    Fort Worth Business Press

    BLK EYE will have the official bottle release party for its BLK EYE Spirit Number 5 on Saturday June 22 from 2pm till 9pm. Bottle Sales, Limit two per person. $45.00 per bottle. Get Free Tickets - reserve your Saturday spot on our Facebook Event Page. If there is a line, all ticketed fans will be given priority entrance at the distillery.

    Since his new specialty distilled beverage was first barreled in 2017, Todd Gregory has been looking forward to the day it would make its debut.

    That would be Saturday June 22 when BLK EYE Distilling Co. scheduled a release party to celebrating the launch of BLK EYE Spirit Number 5, made with black-eyed peas and corn.

    Because black-eyed peas are not a grain, the new product can’t be called whiskey, explained Gregory, co-owner of BlackEyed Distilling Co., which produces award-winning BLK EYE Vodka and a whiskey in a converted historic firehouse in Fort Worth’s Near Southside.

    “But it looks like whiskey, it smells like whiskey and it tastes like whiskey,” said Gregory. “In fact, we think it is one of the best things we have tasted in a long while.”

    Gregory has plenty to be proud of with this new unique new product that has been aging in heavy-charred American oak barrels for more than 24 months. The yield is 598 bottles of a spirit that is 46 percent alcohol and 92 proof.

    But Gregory was hoping that he would have more to toast at the party than his new spirit.

    He had hoped that the Texas Legislature would have given and other craft distillers in the state a break from archaic liquor laws that are making it hard for them to grow their businesses.

    Of the 100-plus alcohol bills that were introduced this past legislative session, only one priority bill of craft distillers made it into law.

    That legislation, known as “sampling of product,” was co-sponsored by GOP state Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and GOP state Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth. It allows a distiller to directly offer product samples to a retailer, restaurant or hotel without the presence of a wholesaler.

    The top priority bills for craft brewers though died without a vote.

    The “bottle bill” would have been a huge boon to the craft distilling industry by raising the limit on the number of bottles distillers could sell from their distilleries.

    The current law restricts distillers to selling two bottles per person a month from distilleries, up to a limit of 3,500 gallons per year.

    The Texas Distilled Spirits Association, a trade group of craft distillers, has pushed unsuccessfully since the 2015 legislative session to allow distillers to sell two bottles of each product – instead of two bottles in total – that they manufacture within a month.

    “We have never asked to raise the 3,500-gallon limit,” said Mike Cameron, president of the distiller spirits association. “Most of our distilleries don’t get close to reaching that limit and this would give them the opportunity to do that.”

    Some of the smallest among the 140 permitted distilleries and approximately 100 active operators don’t have tasting rooms to introduce their products to the public, Cameron said. In those cases, customers who stop by those distilleries have to buy without tasting.

    Further crippling small operators, wholesalers select a limited number of products such as key lime rum from producers for display on liquor store shelves, he said.

    “They have no way to market their products,” Cameron said. “We suspect that a lot of them will be out of business by the time of the next (legislative) session in 2021.”

    The other top priority bill that failed would have allowed distillers to sell their products at festivals and events similar to the rights given to wineries.

    That would have been another marketing opportunity for struggling operators.

    Craft beer brewers, who faced similar struggles without ability to sell beer to-go from their breweries, finally prevailed after multiple repeated attempts to lift the ban on to-go sales. Beer to-go from breweries will become legal in Texas on Sept. 1

    Craft distillers faced opposition from two powerful lobby groups, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Texas, representing distributors, and the Texas Package Store Association.

    The retailers group has strongly opposed a legislation that would impact the three-tier system, which is the foundation of Texas alcoholic beverage laws.

    In a statement regarding direct sales to consumers, the package store group said direct sales pose a safety risk to consumers.

    “The direct consumer sales make the consumer vulnerable to potentially unsafe or tainted alcohol,” the group said. “The single stream system used in markets such as Europe, India and Mexico have no checks and balances to ensure the products are safe to consumer and that tainted alcohol can be tracked back to the source.”

    The group also said that the three-tier system provides “checks and balances in the way that alcohol is distributed and sold.”

    Craft distilling has come a long way in Texas during the past five years and now ranks as the third largest in the country behind California and Florida, according to the craft distilled spirits organization, which is undertaking an economic impact study to determine its value and worth to the Texas economy.

    For Gregory, who is adding his fifth product to his lineup, the failure of the festivals and bottle bills “stifles my ability to grow and market my products.”

    With the rapid growth of the craft distilling industry in Texas, producers are challenged more than ever to find adequate liquor store shelf space to build their brands, Gregory said.

    And, that is ironic.

    “If any manufacturing industry came to our state and offered to build in excess of 100 factories, the economic support would be overwhelming from all state and local leaders,” Gregory said.

    “Guess what, we are already here, but struggling with laws created in 1933 that did not forecast the craft distillery movement and anticipate supporting the local manufacture of alcohol in Texas,” he added.

  • June 14, 2019 9:32 AM | Anonymous
    STUDIO 512

    It’s Woman Crush Wednesday and we were so happy to have our woman crush in-studio with us! Samantha Olvera is the first woman to distill bourbon from grain to glass in Texas, and she came over from Hye to talk to us about how she got started in this majority-male business.

    Samantha is currently Nighttime Distiller at Garrison Brothers Distillery, the first corn-to-cork bourbon distillery in America opened outside of Kentucky, and the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas.
    She recently spearheaded a successful effort to bring a branch of the Bourbon Women Association to Texas. Learn more about that organization at www.bourbonwomen.org.

    Samantha is obviously partial to bourbon — but it’s especially easy to celebrate on National Bourbon Day, which is June 14th!

    To learn more about where Samantha works, Garrison Brothers Distillery, check them out in person in Hye in the Hill Country. For more information about their whiskey, go to www.garrisonbros.com, or follow them on social media, @GarrisonBros.

    Watch Studio 512  Monday through Friday on The CW Austin at 7 a.m.- 9 a.m. (Channel 54.1) & 11 a.m. on KXAN Austin.


  • May 29, 2019 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    Austin 360

    In a distillery space on the Hill Country outskirts of Austin, Revolution Spirits has become known for making unusual spirits and liqueurs to accompany its flagship gin. But the latest product might be the wildest one yet — in more ways than one.

    Releasing as a limited offering on Thursday is Revolution’s Spirit de Spon, a clear liquor drawing its primary flavor from spontaneously fermented beer produced at the neighboring Jester King Brewery. As such, the experimental spirit might not be like anything you’ve had before.

    The idea for Spirit de Spon came from the exact place where the beers that inspired Jester King’s Jeff Stuffings are made: in Belgium. Most specifically, the Revolution team, which includes co-founder Aaron Day and distillers Forrest Allen, Brian Meola and John Henry, had noticed the efforts of respected Belgian brewery Drie Fonteinen to create a spirit from spontaneously fermented beer, made in the traditional Belgian gueuze method, after it had gotten ruined from a thermostat malfunction.

    Though those 100,000 bottles of beer were no longer able to be sold, the beer could be distilled into something new. So Drie Fonteinen’s brewer, Armand Develder, took distillation classes after the 2010 incident in the hopes of saving his product.

    The result was “Armand’Spirit, a completely unique eau de vie made from spontaneously fermented wort,” according to Revolution Spirits’ Facebook post announcing the arrival of Spirit de Spon. “Ever since the release of Spon, we have wanted to do something similar and see how the complex flavors of the beer would come through after distillation.”

    Spon debuted at Jester King in late 2016. Founder Stuffings believes in making beers with a sense of place, featuring ingredients such as Texas-grown and -malted barley, well water from the Trinity Aquifer, hops that have been aged on-site and — particularly key to the spontaneous fermentation process — yeast and bacteria from the surrounding Hill Country. The resulting wild ales define Jester King’s beer program.

    Spontaneous fermentation involves allowing the wort (the hop and barley mixture) to inoculate naturally with airborne microorganisms, then having it ferment over time in barrels. (Most craft brewers make their wares by quicker fermentation in stainless steel tanks.) Jester King’s Spon series is a true American-born example of Belgian gueuze because each beer in the series is a multi-year blend of these spontaneously fermented ales.

    Since 2016, Jester King has released a number of Spon brews. The brewery down the road from Revolution Spirits has collaborated with the distillery on past projects, and for this one, it provided wort that went through spontaneous fermentation at Revolution’s stillhouse. It was then distilled twice. Distillation can profoundly change the original liquid, but that’s not what happened with Spirit de Spon.

    “We were very happy to find that much of the earthy, complex flavors and aromas that are indicative of the farmhouse beers of Jester King were retained in the final product. It truly captures the characteristics that define the beer and the spontaneous fermentation process in general,” according to the Revolution Spirits Facebook post.

    If that sounds like something you want to try, head to Revolution Spirits, at 12345 Pauls Valley Rd., Bldg. G., starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday to pick up a bottle. Bottles are super limited, and sales will be limited to one per customer.

  • May 24, 2019 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    Eater Austin

    With an increasing majority of chefs professing dedication to local ingredients, it’s no longer unusual to know exactly which farmer grew those greens and raised that chicken you’re about to eat. But what about the cocktail in that glass? Beyond fresh-squeezed juice and herbs grown on-site, Austin bartenders now have a wide range of options when it comes to local spirits, as more local craft distillers are interpreting the farm-to-table movement in liquid form.

    The concept isn’t exactly new to town. After falling in love with limoncello during a trip to Italy, Paula Angerstein became the first woman licensed to distill spirits in Texas. Paula’s Texas Spirits was born in 2005. She uses as much Texas-grown fruit as possible to flavor the liqueurs, which also include orange and grapefruit bottles, the latter of which is made with 100 percent ruby red grapefruits grown in the Rio Grande Valley.

    After Paula’s opened, Treaty Oak Distilling became the fourth distillery to receive a Texas permit in 2006 — and the first to produce a “grain-to-bottle” spirit. It’s best seen and tasted with its flagship rum, made using Texas molasses sourced from the last operating sugar mill in the Rio Grande Valley, called Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Inc. It also sources heirloom grains from Barton Springs Mill and has been experimenting with different varieties of corn for special bourbon and single-malt releases.

    In 2011, Treaty Oak released the first gin crafted in Texas: the Waterloo No. 9, using juniper, coriander, anise, and ginger, among other ingredients, as well as indigenous central Texas ingredients such as lavender, grapefruit, and pecans. Last year, the distillery released an Old Tom-style gin made using Austin-foraged yaupon shrub and honey from Wimberley, Texas.

    “Procuring local ingredients gives the product a sense of place and time and contributes to the story,” says Philip Dormont, Treaty’s director of product development. “Knowing we are contributing to the success of Texas agriculture — the jobs being retained and created, the relationships we’ve established — is exciting to say the least.

    “And of course there is sustainability,” Dormont continues. “The closer the supplier, the smaller the environmental impact.”

    Distillers, much like chefs, have to deal with changing climates affecting crops and produce availability, and must often go to great lengths to source high-quality seasonal fruit, especially in the face of unpredictable Texas weather, in order to produce consistent products.

    Over half of the citrus used in Angerstein’s orange and lemon spirits is local, and the rest is sourced from the Southern hemisphere when Texas-grown fruit is not readily available.

    Treaty Oak purchases high volumes of grapefruit from the valley when the fruit is in season from US Citrus, zests it all, and freezes it to ensure year-long quality in its gin. The makrut lime used in the yaupon gin is also quite hard to obtain; so far, Dormont has found only one source — US Citrus — and the distillery must plan its production schedule around its availability.

    When Brian Meola, John Henry, and Forrest Allen launched Revolution Spirits in 2014, they set out with the determination to source as much locally as possible for their craft gin, amaro, and liqueurs.

    “We found out quickly that you have to help build that infrastructure,” said Allen, who holds a multifaceted role as co-distiller, sales representative, tasting room guide, and stakeholder.

    Revolution continues to have problems finding local farms that can commit to growing the amounts of lavender, rosemary and lemongrass needed to flavor its flagship Austin Reserve Gin. Texas grapefruit also plays a huge role in the same spirit, and to date, they have sourced from at least 10 different producers, depending on which has the right size and quality of fruit.

    Still Austin co-owner Andrew Braunberg and the rest of his team at Still Austin Whiskey Co. faced challenges when they launched its grain-to-glass whiskey last year. Along with similar problems faced by Revolution, Still initially had trouble even getting farmers to grow the exact type of grains they needed.

    “The trouble with Texas wheat is that 95 percent of the wheat grown here now is a hard wheat [used for bread] and distillers like soft wheat,” said Braunberg. “We’ve got to get a more diverse set of varieties of soft winter wheat.”

    Still has been working with local grain guru James Brown at Barton Springs Mill and craft malthouse TexMalt to encourage Texas farmers to produce high quality, non-GMO barley, wheat, rye, and corn for its new-make white whiskeys, rye gin, bourbons, and rye whiskeys.

    “The trouble is that most of the grains in Texas are just commodity crops,” explained Braunberg. “There’s no reason for them to do anything different or more expensive because the price is pretty much set by whatever the world grain price is at the time you pull them off your field. There hasn’t been a strong local market for any Texas grains, really.”

    That is, until now.

    Of course, certain ingredients just aren’t feasible to grow in the relentless heat of Texas. Jessica Leigh Graves and her Violet Crown Spirits partners Matthew Mancuso and Chris McLaughlin discovered this while sourcing ingredients for its flagship product, the very first absinthe to be made in the state.

    There are 13 herbs and spices involved in Violet’s emerald absinthe, some of which were hard to source, since fennel, anis, and angelica aren’t grown in the state because they require colder weather.

    While artemisia species grow across the globe, Violet couldn’t find any American commercial outfits selling it in the country. To remedy that, Graves enlisted the help of some small local farmers she already knew. Josh DeCamp in Elgin now grows Artemisia pontica(aka Roman wormwood or petit wormwood), and Ellen Waller of Little Bluestem Farms in San Marcos grows Artemisia absinthium (aka grand wormwood). Graves even grew all the peppermint for its first batch in her own backyard. The jasmine for its second release, a fragrant liqueur, came from various Texas vines.

    Violet Crown Spirits’ Midnight Marigold bitter cordial Violet Crown Spirits [Official]

    Many Austin distillers have struck a balance by sourcing as much as they can locally before filling in the gaps with imports as needed, either due to flavor or logistics. Mike Groener attempted to use local cedar berries to craft Genius Gin, but found he needed to also work with Colorado-grown juniper berries to achieve the correct peppery notes.

    When perfecting its Austin Reserve Gin, the Revolution Spirits team searched high and low for a local pepper to use in its proprietary blend, but found that nothing fit the spirit’s flavor profile quite like pink peppercorns from Asia. They also discovered that Texas doesn’t have enough non-ash juniper, so they continue to import theirs from Italy.

    As a small production distillery, Revolution still utilizes plenty of local ingredients and products to craft its spirits and, in doing so, the team has forged collaborations with many other like-minded Austin artisans. There are Cuvee coffee beans in the Cafecito liqueur, Srsly chocolate in the Chocolate Cafecito, and steeped, green, unripe pecans from Yegua Creek Farms in its digestivo Noce Pecan.

    It is also constantly working on limited-release collaborations with other local producers: apple brandies with Argus Cidery and Texas Keeper Cider, apple eau de vie with Fairweather Cider Company, liqueurs made with spent fruit from Jester King Brewery, and the list goes on.

    Like many moonshiners before them, Desert Door’s Judson Kauffman, Brent Looby, and Ryan Campbell developed their spirit around what was already growing in abundance. Kauffman was introduced to the desert spoon plant native to southwestern Texas and northern Mexico as a teenager hunting in West Texas with his uncles long before Desert Door sotol was a twinkle in his eye.

    It was the history and versatility of the desert spoon plant that inspired the distillery. “We fell in love with the romance of it,” said Kauffman, “and the accessibility was a bonus.”

    Desert Door uses the Dasylirion texanum plant, aka the desert spoon plant, which is smaller than the usual Dasylirion wheeleri plant used by Mexican sotoleros. Each wild plant is hand-selected and harvested throughout West Texas, then the sotol hearts (or piñas) are removed, steamed, and fermented before the mash is distilled. The resulting spirit maintains the earthy, grassy notes typical of Chihuahuan sotol, but finishes with a sippable smoothness. And this Texas-born agave spirit is made from just three ingredients: sotol, water, and organic yeast.

    Perhaps we can expect to see more spirits made from locally foraged edibles. Treaty Oak has begun experimenting with a new project in which they will collaborate with chefs to create gins exclusively from foraged ingredients to showcase the central Texas terroir. However, foraging for botanicals comes with its own set of challenges.

  • May 07, 2019 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    Texas Monthly 

    When two Austin businessmen—Chad Auler of Savvy Vodka and Clayton Christopher of Sweet Leaf Tea—founded Deep Eddy Vodka in 2010, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have foreseen the maker producing more than a million cases per year within less than a decade.

    Bottling their liquor with unique flavor infusions was the plan from the beginning. The first product to market was (unsurprisingly, given their combined backgrounds) Sweet Tea Vodka, but it’s when they introduced Ruby Red Grapefruit in 2013—a variant now found in seemingly any bar in Texas—that they truly hit the jackpot. Two years later, Auler and Christopher were able to sell Deep Eddy to Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Brands, best known for bourbons like Evan Williams and Elijah Craig, for a reported nearly $400 million.

    The company’s trajectory has only continued upward since then, with an expected production of 1.25 million cases this year. As the brand has grown, so has the number of visitors to Deep Eddy’s Dripping Springs distillery along U.S. Highway 290—about 75,000 last year. To better accommodate those guests, on Saturday a newly expanded tasting room will officially open to the public. Live music, food, and raffle prizes are all planned as part of the grand opening event.

    The bulk of Deep Eddy’s production has moved to Buda, which allowed a former distillery space to be converted into a second, warehouse-sized tasting room that triples the original tasting room’s capacity. The new room’s dominant feature is a long bar, with a second “tasting flight” bar to one side, a custom bottling line just behind it, and a performance stage on the opposite side. Farm tables and banquettes provide seating. The company’s hospitality team expects to increase live music programming, starting with “Sips and Sounds” events on the fourth Sunday of each month.

    Both the old and new rooms will operate Thursdays through Sundays, selling vodka flights and fourteen different made-to-order cocktails. Due to liquor laws, the bar is limited to Deep Eddy Vodka, non-alcoholic mixers, and lower alcohol accents like vermouths and bitters. To soak up the alcohol on site, food trucks are also on the property Saturdays and Sundays. “Guests get pizza delivered here too,” lead distiller Jason Ducharme says with a chuckle. As they are in retail stores, Beacham reports that the brand’s Ruby Red, Original, and Lemon flavors are the most popular choices in the tasting room.

    Ducharme was mum about the next flavor Deep Eddy is planning to add to its product line, though he would say they’re tentatively planning a 2020 launch for it. Meanwhile the new tasting room will host “Flavor Fridays,” during which guests can sample potential candidates—like lime and pineapple—and provide feedback on each. “We have our fruit picked and juiced immediately, then ship frozen 52-gallon drums of juice to the distillery,” Ducharme said of the brand’s unique production challenges as its grow. “Sometimes we have to request an unconventional picking schedule in our order to get the flavors we’re looking for.”

    While the drive between southwest Austin and the Deep Eddy tasting room was relatively restaurant-free just a few years ago, the area’s growth has added to the easy pre- and postgame dining options when visiting the distillery. Of particular note are two restaurants in the Belterra Village development: The Switch (one of Texas Monthly’s recent 25 top barbecue newcomers) and Pieous (pizzeria with excellent pastrami). As with all visits to distillers and brewers, guests should look to designate a driver, or hire a car if the whole party plans on imbibing. Google “Dripping Springs shuttles” or “Dripping Springs party bus” for a number of options.

  • April 09, 2019 9:29 AM | Anonymous

    The Trey Blocker Show

    Whiskey sommelier Jake Clements sits down with us to explain all things whiskey. From a bourbon, to single malts, to corn whiskies, Jake Clements is a trained expert who can make your whiskey more enjoyable.

    Clements paired his love of whiskey with his event planning experience, and launched the Texas Whiskey Festival. He had the idea because of the abundance of whiskey distilleries in Texas. The Texas Whiskey Festival is a one-of-a-kind event for whiskey makers and whiskey lovers in the Lone Star State.

    This year’s festival will be hosted on the set of AMC’s The Son; a re-creation of a Texas Hill Country community typical of the early 1900s! You’ll feel as though you traveled back in time to drink whiskey in an old west town. Make your Good Friday great by attending the Texas Whiskey Festival on April 19th. Learn more at txwhiskeyfest.com.

    More than halfway through the legislative session, Clements has an idea of what bills he’s rooting for in terms of distilleries and event planning.

    What event does Clements have up his sleeve next?


  • April 08, 2019 3:29 PM | Anonymous

    TDSA is pleased to announce that Ben Milam Whiskey has joined as a Principal Member. Ben Milam Whiskey understands that creating award-winning, limited production whiskey isn’t magic, but it sure tastes like it. Whether it is distilling the finest grain-to-glass Bourbon or world-class whiskey blended from hand-picked barrels, they make whiskeys for you to celebrate everyday accomplishments, and life’s biggest triumphs. The distillery currently offers three products: Ben Milam Single Barrel Bourbon, Ben Milam Barrel Proof Bourbon (limited release) and the Ben Milam Small Batch Rye. Ben Milam Whiskey is distributed statewide in Texas and is available at fine liquor stores, bars and restaurants.

    https://benmilamwhiskey.com/ 

  • April 08, 2019 3:29 PM | Anonymous

    TDSA is pleased to announce that Persedo Spirits has joined as a Principal Member. Persedo is a technology-based company that provides premium and ultra-premium spirits to the craft distilling industry.

    https://www.persedo.com/ 

  • April 08, 2019 3:28 PM | Anonymous

    TDSA is excited to announce that Tahwahkaro Distilling Company has joined the family as a Principal Member. Tahwahkaro is a grain to glass small batch distillery that mills grains, cooks, ferments, distills and ages its whiskey in new white oak barrels to produce a uniquely-Texas tasting four grain bourbon whiskey. They are distributed through Republic National Distribution Company.

    https://www.tahwahkaro.com/ 

  • March 20, 2019 8:33 AM | Anonymous

    Trey Blocker Show 

    In the latest episode of The Trey Blocker Show, we venture out to Hye, Texas and visit with Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers Distillery- the first legal bourbon distillery in Texas!

    Listen to hear Dan's many stories including how he got $1.9 million dollars in company funding from a card game!


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Austin, TX 78701

Amber Hausenfluck, Government Affairs: (512) 617-4523
Daniel Whitehead, Administration: (804) 775-1959 

info@texasdistilledspirits.org
www.texasdistilledspirits.org

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