Texas Goes Big on Craft Spirits
Written by Kara New man of the WineEnthusiast
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.
Its pioneering attitude and diverse population means a sometimes unconventional approach. From Austin to Waco and beyond, there’s plenty of whiskey, an iconic vodka brand and surprise detours through rakia, sotol and more.
What makes distilling different here? According to Heather Greene, who relocated from the New York City area to Austin to become CEO and master blender at Milam & Greene, it’s the sprawling state’s wide-ranging climate that allows for a varied range of spirits.
In general, it’s marked by heat and humidity, which helps whiskey and other spirits mature faster, but it’s also subject to winds that sweep down the plains and desert-like conditions further south.
“What is ‘Texas whiskey’?” asks Greene. “How do you define it in a place this big? You could fit three Scotlands in Texas!”
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.
Marlene Holmes grew up in Kentucky and never planned on leaving. But when a new career opportunity came her way at age 62, she ditched retirement plans to hike and garden more and instead moved to Blanco, Texas. She couldn’t pass up an offer to work as master distiller for Milam & Greene Whiskey.