A Texan’s Take On The Best Bourbons From The Lone Star State
Written by Gabrielle Pharms of UPROXX
Ask any Texan, myself included, what they’re most proud of from their home state and you’re sure to get an emphatic answer. It might be the savory barbecue served up everywhere from fine dining restaurants to the roadside shacks, or the uncrowded, seemingly-endless national parks, or simply the beautiful, expansive, star-filled night sky. Or it might be the whiskey.
Young to the industry in relation to whiskeys distilled in Kentucky and Tennessee, the current wave of Texas distilling started in 2006 — when Garrison Brothers Distillery was granted a distiller’s permit for bourbon. That made it the first of its kind: the only legal bourbon distillery in Texas. Much progress has been made since then, with the Texas Whiskey Trail launching just last year, founded by 12 distilleries at the forefront of crafting Certified Texas Whiskey.
To speak generally, Texas whiskey, particularly bourbon, features nuances and notes that are distinctive to the region. Unlike whiskey-producing states to the east of Texas, with four easy-to-define seasons, Lone Star weather is generally dry and often hot. (It’s also variable — we like to say that you can experience four seasons in one week, in Texas. Sometimes all in one day.) The dry conditions combined with warm temperatures cause barrelled alcohol to expand. This helps the distillate reach deep into the pores of the wood, which is where many of the flavors are born and where the deep, dark hues originate. Of course, the climate varies based on where you are in the massive state. Houston (more humid) and Austin (drier) are just a few hours away from each other, but the unique weather in each city no doubt affects the taste of the whiskeys made there.
In the last decade, the Lone Star State has experienced a whiskey boom. Ask any bartender, including Caudebec, and they’ll tell you that Texas, particularly Austin and the nearby Texas Hill Country, is home to some of the best craft whiskeys in the nation. And of the growing crop of new distilleries, one of the region’s clear standouts is Milam & Greene: an independent, women-owned whiskey brand.
These five new grain-to-glass releases are proof that the state’s still-young whiskey industry is developing a bold regional profile.
The Lone Star State, the largest in terms of square mileage in the continental U.S. as well as one of its most populous, encompasses a wide range of home-grown spirits. In other words, don’t mess with Texas.