One thing everyone knows about Texans is that they are a proud bunch. They are proud of almost everything about their state, from the size of it, to the football teams, to the mindset of its inhabitants. Texans also take great pride in their barbecue and their beer too. To them everything else is a cheap imitation. One thing that most people may not realize though is that Texas is also home to one of the finest bourbons made anywhere in the world. Well, when I say most people not realizing this fact, I mean people outside of Texas, because if the line of cars making what seems almost like a pilgrimage to the Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye Texas is any indication, people who love Bourbon surely know about this home of fine bourbon.
The fact that such a fine bourbon comes out of Texas is surprising to most. Mention bourbon and most people who know whiskey think of Kentucky. That is what Kentucky is supposed to be known for. That and horses of course.
But the Garrison Brothers believe, and so do many others, that their bourbon is better than anything that comes from the great state of Kentucky. They believe it is the uniqueness of Texas, and the Texas hill country, that makes theirs the best bourbon anywhere. Forged in the 100 degree heat they get for many months and the natural woods and ingredients of Texas, Garrison Brothers Distillery has something Kentucky can’t hold a candle to.
Garrison Brothers Distillery is actually the oldest legal bourbon distillery in Texas, having been granted the first bourbon distiller’s permit outside of Kentucky and Tennessee in 2006. Ever since, they have made a name for themselves that has people driving long distances whenever they release new batches every year. It is a scene not unlike a sporting event, where cars line up for miles as people come to the distillery to claim their bottles of the special bourbon.
Garrison Brothers Distillery is a family enterprise, driven by a desire to make the best bourbon anywhere on the planet, and driven by a sense of family, faith in God, and a belief in good friends and good times. It comes through in the work they put into each batch they make. This is not a job, its more like a calling. And the results speak for themselves. People from near and far making their way to the Texas Hill Country to claim a bottle or two or three and the countless awards they have won for their bourbon.
Garrison Brothers makes several distinct types of bourbon. The 2019 Small Batch is one of their prize-winning batches. It is described as being “amber-crimson like a Texas sunset, darker, richer, and fuller than almost any other bourbon on the market.” They take pride in the fact that their bourbon is made completely in Hye, Texas, from a sweet mash of premium food-grade corn, soft red winter wheat bought from local farms and two row barley.
2019 Single Barrel is another popular selection. What makes this one so unique is that visitors to the distillery can actually pick the barrel they want the bourbon to come from, and have it bottled for them right there. Bottles even include custom labels with information on who it was bottled for.
If there is a top of the line bourbon at Garrison Brothers it is their 2018 Cowboy, which is uncut and unfiltered, straight bourbon whiskey, 137 proof. That’s right 137 proof, not for the faint of heart. Their website says it best when partaking of this award-winning bourbon to “…proceed with caution; barrel-proof bourbon is not for everyone. It should always be savored in moderation. For something strong enough to run a car engine, the finish is incredibly smooth. While surprising, maybe it ought not be, as that restraint makes it ideal for summertime drinking. This stuff was heat-forged in Texas, after all.”
If that is too strong for you, there are other choices, like Boot Flask and Balmorhea, which is twice barreled. There is Estacado, aged three years in a white oak barrel and finished for six months in eight heritage Llano Estacado Winery port wine casks. And there is Honey Dew, which is aged four years in charred American white oak casks and “infused with Texas-grown and Texas-made Burleson’s wildflower honey” according to the company.
No matter which bottle or batch you choose you can count on it being one of the best anywhere. That’s not the Garrison Brothers saying that, though they would, it’s those in the know saying it. The awards go on and on and include the American Micro Whiskey of the Year in 2014 (for Cowboy 2013), 2017 (for Cowboy 2015), and 2019 (for Balmorhea); at the American Craft Spirits Competition they won the 2018 Gold Single Barrell, 2018 Silver Small Batch 2016, 2018 Bronze GB Estacado, 2018 Bronze Cowboy Bourbon (2017); at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, they have won the Bronze Flagship and Silver Flagship for several years and they have won similar titles at such competitions as the Denver International Spirits Competition, the San Diego Spirits Festival, the LA International Spirits Competition, the Texas Whiskey Festival, Whiskies of the World and have been listed in USA Today’s 10 Best.
If that doesn’t prove this is good bourbon, the line of cars should.
Garrison Brothers Distillery is deep in the heart of Texas and is just another thing Texans can take great pride in. Bourbon wasn’t meant to be a Texas thing, but it sure is now.