Although when you think of Texas you might be apt to think of amazing brisket, landing a redfish off the Gulf Coast or that road trip across the state that just seemed to take F…O…R…E…V…E…R…are we there yet? No. One thing that you may not think of is bourbon, but times they are a changing my friends, and Texas as it happens has a fair bit of bourbon being distilled within its borders.
Texas stands apart pretty distinctly as a whiskey producing region predominantly given the seasons….first summer, second summer, third summer, tricked ya; still summer and fall…which still feels like summer. This heat helps the juice in the barrels to expand and permeate deeper into the wood than in more temperate climates. Read my post on deep penetration here. The important thing you need to know about barrel penetration however is that it imparts greater flavor and coloration to the whiskey.
Certified Texas Whiskey
Being Texan is kind of a big deal (no bias here whatsoever), and as such, it’s important to ensure that the whiskey you’re drinking that say’s it’s from Texas is actually made by Texans in Texas, so the Texas Whiskey Association has stood up their very own certification program to provide accreditation to those whiskeys that meet the mark. To be certified as a genuine Texas whiskey, a whiskey must meet the following criteria:
Produced at licensed distilleries wholly located within the State of Texas.
Produced from cereal grains (whole grain, ground grain or grain flakes) and Texas-sourced water that is…
Processed in the state of Texas into a mash
Fermented entirely in the State of Texas
Distilled and barreled in the State of Texas.
Compliant with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau designations of “Whisk(e)y” both in class & type.
Matured entirely within the territorial boundaries of the State of Texas.
Bottled within the State of Texas with no additives other than Texas-sourced water.
Independently verified via on-site annual verification by an officer of The Texas Whiskey Association compliance team.
Bourbon Texas | Texas Whiskey Trail
The map below shows the regional zones of Texas with a corresponding distillery list to the right. It may seem like there are a lot piled into the "coastal plains" but lets face it, that portion of the state is about the same size as any of the surrounding states...so, some perspective is required when viewing the map. Get all the information you've ever wanted to know on the Texas Whiskey Trail here.
Best Texas Bourbons
Below are five of the highest rated whiskey's produced in the Republic of Texas.
1. Ironroot Harbinger Bourbon Whiskey
The Ironroot Harbinger bottling has won a number of prestigious awards and is a brand steeped in interesting history named after "iron grapes" from a grape breeder who saved grapes from a insect outbreak in the 1800's. The mash interestingly combines four types of corn: purple corn, flint corn, bloody butcher corn and non-GMO yellow dent corn.
2. Balcones Texas Blue Corn Bourbon
Coming in rather hot at a solid 64.5% alcohol by volume, Balcones delivers with their Texas Blue Corn Bourbon. The blue corn imparts a unique flavor profile with a blend of savory sweetness that pairs with a good burn from the higher proof level.
3. Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon
Craft Spirits Magazine
Although it's number three on the list, the Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon rates first as far as presentation is concerned, coming in a custom wood box atop a satin pillow it really stands heads above its competitors in terms of packaging. Interestingly, this particular whiskey was a happy accident. After experimenting around with a number of different mashbills, Garrison Brothers couldn't dump all the experimental batches so they blended them and boom, Cowboy Bourbon was born.
4. Ben Milam Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Although I had walked past this bottle a number of times at the local liquor store I hadn't noticed the figure of a man on the bottle holding a rifle or recognized the namesake for the brand (not being a native Texan). This bourbon is however named after Ben Milam a famous military hero of the Texas Revolution. This is a very approachable bourbon that many would probably like, but for some, it will come off a bit narrow in it's profile. A great everyday sipper with a reasonable price tag to boot.
5. Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon
Bucket List Bars
Although Treaty Oak started out making gin, they hit their stride with this genuine grain to glass bourbon, drawing from local heirloom grains sourced locally from Barton Springs Mill. The wheat is a strong component of this whiskey, and there is a young oak note that's so-so, but expected given this is a two year bourbon.
Ready to Try Some Texas Bourbon?
Sure you can enjoy some Texas bourbon by taking a bottle pull from alongside a campfire on your deer lease, but to really appreciate what you're drinking you need the full experience. Get an official Bourboneur Glencairn Glass with custom engraved 2 ounce pour line - get the perfect pour, every time.