Ya’ll may want to saddle-up your horses…
Our flagship bourbon, Garrison Brothers’ Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey™, will be on liquor store shelves throughout Blanco and Gillespie Counties on Wednesday, November 3rd.
There, I feel better. Now let’s talk about bourbon.
Garrison Brothers’ Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The 2008 Signature Vintage of Garrison Brothers’ Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey is THE bourbon we set out to make more than five years ago. Made by hand from a sweet mash of organic Texas corn, soft red winter wheat, two-row malted barley, and pure Hill Country rainwater, bourbon doesn’t get much better than this. The 2008 Vintage has a rich velvety nose of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, nutmeg, and coconut. But the real character is revealed in the finish—long, smooth, and buttery, like warm, caramelized sugar crackling and melting across your tongue.
The Signature 2008 Vintage has been bottled at 94 proof. Each custom 750ml-sized bottle proudly displays the Texas star. Each bottle is hand-dipped in wax, hand-numbered and signed by the distiller.
This is the smoothest bourbon whiskey we’ve ever tasted. It should be savored slowly, at bottle proof, or perhaps with a little water or soda. Let the bourbon breathe before you take your first pour. Bear in mind that this bourbon comes straight from the barrel. It is NOT chill-filtered because to do so would be a sin. So, when you add a little ice or water, it will get cloudy. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
The barrels that comprise this release were placed in our barn to mature in the summer of 2008. However, just 36 barrels were selected for this release so that means only about 1,800 bottles will be sold. We hope you get your hands on one.
Make More Bourbon, Damn It!
Yeah, I know. We’re not making enough bourbon. Those who have tasted it want to know when they can get it in their favorite bar or local liquor store. Due to the outrageous demand, we knew we needed to raise money to expand the operation. So Fred, Donnis and I had a little meeting back in July to tackle that issue head on.
Fred Koch, our operations manager, suggested we take a page from the Stonewall Volunteer Fire Department. “Whenever they need money,” he explained, “they hold a fish fry.” It sounded like a good idea to me. But then our financially-minded production manager, Donnis Todd, astutely pointed out that “there was no way we were going to raise millions of American dollars with a ridiculous $4-a-plate fish fry.” Ever positive, he suggested that we partner that idea with a gun raffle and washer-pitching tournament.
Sure enough, this August we closed a significant round of expansion capital through a private placement offering and started building our new bourbon kitchen. A smarter, talented friend of ours — a saint, actually — spent the summer creating full-blown engineering plans and has kept our feet to the fire during construction. The kitchen is well underway now. New cookers, stills and fermentation tanks are being built to our specifications and we should be making bourbon — lots more bourbon – starting in the spring of 2011.
Those who have been out to see us in Hye can take heart. We’ll still make every bottle by hand. Visitors can still taste the mash from the cooker and sample the white dog as it comes off the still. And you can still hammer a bung into a barrel and sign the barrel. But the next time you come visit, we’ll have many more barrels from which to choose.
Making Bourbon This Good is Expensive! You can help too.
Every month we’re cooking 30,000 pounds of the most expensive corn in the world and we’re filling 80 equally expensive, slow-growth White American Oak barrels. So, yeah, we’re burning through some cash.
To take the edge off, we’ve launched Garrison Brothers’ Dry Goods Store on our website. You’ll find some nice t-shirts and bumper stickers there. Please take a look and consider buying one. Each time you do, it enables us to make a little more bourbon.
If you really want to get involved, please consider joining our ambassador association, The Old 300. If you choose to join, I can personally guarantee you’ll soon know more about fine bourbon whiskey than anyone else in Texas and you’ll have a great time learning.
The weekend of September 10 was Bourbon Camp at Garrison Brothers Distillery. What is Bourbon Camp? Well, it’s more fun than any camp you went to as a kid. There are fewer ghost stories and pillow fights. And it’s only for our Old 300 Members.
This year, about thirty of our Old 300 Ambassadors came roaring through Hye to spend a full day and night making and enjoying fine bourbon. It was also a great excuse for us to show off our new barrel barn.
We started early in the morning with breakfast and bourbon in the form of Hill Country Sunrises (Garrison Brothers’ bourbon, orange juice and a splash of prickly pear puree). For lunch we enjoyed crispy fried chicken drizzled in pecan-bourbon sauce, red potato salad and bourbon-bread pudding. Lunch cocktails were John Daly’s (Garrison Brothers’ bourbon, iced tea and fresh-squeezed lemonade). All these fabulous meals were catered by our good friends at the Silver K Café in Johnson City.
During dinner, we enjoyed a comparative tasting of wheated bourbons: Pappy Van Winkle 20-year old, Weller 12-year old, Colorado Gold 2-year old and Garrison Brothers’ Signature 2008 Vintage, of course. We also tried a little Elmer T. Lee to see if folks could identify the rye. Then, we danced under the stars to the guitar of Scooter Pearce.
If you’re an Old 300 Member and you couldn’t make Bourbon Camp 2010, please plan on attending the next gathering in the fall of 2011. We’ll let Old 300 Members know the date soon. If you’d like to join The Old 300, here’s how.
Adios to The Young Gun
As many of ya’ll know, we introduced the first whiskey and the first bourbon ever made in Texas on Texas Independence Day (March 2, 2010). These 100-proof “pre-release” bottles sold out in about 48 hours and have quickly become collectors’ items. According to one liquor store owner in Blanco, “This is our 15th year in business and we’ve never seen anything like it. People were coming from everywhere.” We sent a few bottles to some friends in Kentucky to say thanks for all their help getting us to this stage.
If you still have a bottle, you may not want to crack that wax seal just yet. We were delighted to learn that one sold recently for $1,100 for a good cause at a charity auction in Horseshoe Bay. We also heard an unconfirmed report that a bottle was put up for sale on eBay and bidding went to $1,800 before the auction was closed down (that’s illegal ya’ll). There are still a few bottles at Garrison Brothers’ Distillery and we use them for small tasting samples for our visitors.
But when they’re gone, they’re gone.
When Can I Get A Bottle?
Today, more than 900 barrels are aging in our barns. The bourbon is getting better every day. We visit the barrels once a month and take samples. Fortunately, complexity and character come quick around here, but still, we will not bottle any bourbon before its time!
As soon as the bottled bourbon leaves our distillery on its way to stores, restaurants and bars, we’ll let members of The Old 300 know first where they can buy a bottle. They’ll help spread the word.
Texas, please bear with us a while longer. I promise you, the whiskey is worth the wait!
Distillery Tours and Tastings
If you don’t buy all this fancy propaganda about how good our bourbon is, then come on out and taste it for yourself. We’re still not “officially” open for tours, but if you’re willing to call first and schedule a “sit and sip,” we’ll do our best to roll out the red carpet. Also, since the law prohibits us from selling you a bottle direct from the distillery, and they won’t let us charge for tastings, know in advance that we’re going to ask you to buy a t-shirt.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas. We’ll check back in with ya’ll in the spring.
Proprietor and Distiller