Texas Bourbon News

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Texas Bourbon News, Fall 2013

The Texans are causing trouble again.

A liquor store manager at one of the mega-chains recently asked me to stop sending our “salespeople” into his stores. He said they’re asking for Garrison Brothers so often that they just can’t keep it in stock. I replied, “We don’t have any salespeople. Those are called customers. Could you consider stocking more?”

Last week one of our volunteer bottlers told me she had recently visited her local Perry’s Steakhouse and asked if they served Garrison Brothers bourbon. The general manager politely replied, “What is it with that stuff? Everybody keeps asking for it.”

The Texans are definitely causing trouble again.

Because they can often negotiate bulk discounts, most upscale corporate restaurant and hotel chains like Landry’s, Perry’s, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, Sheraton, Darden’s and Flemings maintain “approved corporate liquor lists” and the individual property managers rarely serve liquors that are not on the approved lists.

Bar Barrel at Willie GsNevertheless, Garrison Brothers is showing up behind corporate- and independent-owned bars all across the state. Ruth’s Chris in Fort Worth and Austin. Flemings at The Domain. Smith and Wollensky’s in Houston. Willie Gs in Austin. The legendary bar at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, recently acquired by Hyatt Hotels, will soon be offering Garrison Brothers. The Pappas Family and Landry’s have been particularly good to us serving Garrison Brothers at most of their signature properties. Pappas even offers Garrison Brothers at their restaurants in Texas airports. I’m told it sells very well, especially to foreigners who can’t get Garrison Brothers in their home state.

None of this was supposed to happen. We were supposed to have plenty of bourbon available by now. The Spring 2013 Release of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the second largest release we’ve ever bottled and it was distributed only months after our largest release ever in October 2012. That was supposed to be enough fine bourbon to keep liquor stores stocked for a year. We were even toying with the idea of distributing our bourbon in Colorado and New York.

Needless to say, those plans are now scrapped. Sorry Yankees. Blame the damn Texans.

Things got even weirder this spring at the state capitol in Austin. Bourbon-infused legislators there passed a number of bills that will help our little business. Senate Bill 905 allows us to sell bottles to visitors right here at the distillery. Senate Bill 642 permits us to sell our bourbon in bulk to food processing companies like Blue Bell and Kraft General Foods. Another bill was passed that permits us to sell our bourbon and White Dog to breweries and wineries. We can also now buy beer from them to make all sorts of unique whiskeys.

Again, none of this was supposed to happen. But it has. There is suddenly endless opportunity for our little business.

The problem, of course, is the troublesome Texans. They keep drinking ALL the damn bourbon.

Reinforcements Are On The Way

Panoramic of bottlingI’m happy to report that The Fall 2013 Release of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey is out on the trail now, and by October 1, it will be available at fine liquor stores, bars, hotels and restaurants throughout God’s country.

For 40 days and 40 nights brave volunteers from all over Texas have been hard at work here in Hye, often in despicable, deplorable working conditions, bottling the fall release from Garrison Brothers. The hours are long. The meals are terrible. The women are gorgeous … and tipsy.

The Federated American Unionized Bottler’s Brotherhood of Hye

waxed nutsWorking for no pay whatsoever, each volunteer bottler is forced to stand for hours-on-end over a hot Procter-Silex crock-pot bubbling with noxious black wax. The temperature in the bottling room near the steam boilers often soars above 100 degrees. There are frequent skin burns from the wax and the glue that seals the cartons. Cell phones are often lost forever, puttering slowly to the bottom of the hot wax in the crockpot. (And yes, those are waxed bull testicles in the picture to the left.)

Dehumanizing labor conditions like this prompted a number of our volunteers to begin secret discussions at one end of the bottling table about the formation of a union. Clandestine meetings over ice cold beer were held in the barrel barn. The dry, flavorless fajitas served for lunch sent one brave woman named Martha Zeiher over the edge. She indignantly posed atop the bottling table — like Sally Field in Norma Rae — with her UNION sign held Hye and demanded better conditions. The Federated American Unionized Bottler’s Brotherhood of Hye was formed.

unionWhen they weren’t bitching (and they never really were; this is a twisted fantasy from my disturbed mind), they were bottling. So far, more than 18,000 bottles of our ambrosia have been filled, corked, pigtailed, waxed, polished, signed and wanger-hangered. (If these terms make no sense to you, come spend some time with us here in Hye bottling bourbon.)

We’ll knock out another 4,000 bottles next week, and then, hopefully, this will be enough bourbon to get the unquenchable Texans through the fall of 2013. If you and your friends would like to reserve a volunteer spot on the Redneck Maquiladora, please send your contact information to laurel@garrisonbros.com. She eventually works everyone in but spots are filled first-come, first-served.

The Fall 2013 Vintage Rides Into Town

We call this new release of our bourbon “Nilla Wafer.” The nose is Nabisco Nilla wafers drizzled in white chocolate with brown sugar sprinkles. An initial taste of apricot cobbler with gingerbread slowly develops into cinnamon-sugared whole-wheat pancakes coated in maple syrup. It has a crisp mouthfeel with a spicy finish of masa harina corn tortillas and cocoa powder.

qualitycontrolDrop a large cube of ice in this one (yes, we said that) and we think you’ll enjoy it. As the bourbon opens up with ice or water, it will prove that it is truly non-filtered by becoming cloudy. That cloudiness is the fatty acids from the grain separating. It sweetens the taste and brings out the red winter wheat and Panhandle corn flavor. In fact, if a bottle is left to rest in a cold area, you’ll want to shake the bottle up before opening to disperse the acids. Don’t be alarmed by those clouds. Those clouds prove it’s real, unfiltered straight bourbon. Just give the bottle a shake. No other bourbon packs that much flavor. The bourbon you should be worried about are those that don’t get cloudy. Try that little test at your local watering hole.

We’d appreciate your help quickly getting this bourbon into bars, restaurants, hotels and retail stores. Please ask every bartender and retailer you see “Do you serve Garrison Brothers Bourbon?” I’m trying to visit each personally to tell them thanks but there’s a ton of bars in Texas and I can’t get to them all.

The Cowboy Rides Away

The Home ShrineIn May we released our first new bourbon. Six hundred bottles of Cowboy Bourbon from Garrison Brothers quietly made their way to liquor stores that wisely placed advance orders from our distributor. After a few strange distribution hiccups, all 600 bottles vanished from stores almost as quickly as they were placed in the glass case. I heard rumors that some retailers were selling The Cowboy for $300, even for a small 375ml bottle. A few bars were selling a 2-ounce pour for $75.

The tasting notes for our Cowboy Bourbon read like this. I think they’re pretty accurate:

Uncut. Unfiltered. Glistening orange, chocolate and crimson colors. Steamy rodeo cowgirl perfume. Velvety brown sugar- and caramel-filled gushers candy. Buttered waffles. Maple syrup, brown sugar, sweet gumbo roux. Warm sweetness overcomes the pain. Finishes long with hints of chocolate, cocoa powder and black licorice.

Enjoy straight up or with just a splash of soda or water but ALWAYS in moderation. Barrel proof (135.9) bourbon can be dangerous for the uninitiated.

The Cowboy was a personal triumph for me. I have received dozens of notes of congratulations from enthusiasts. Since I started making bourbon almost nine years ago, I have always wanted to make a bourbon that was as good or better than Buffalo Trace’s George T. Stagg. I’d be lying if I did not admit that Stagg was the inspiration for our Cowboy Bourbon. I still love my Stagg.

If you’re into the high-end stuff, you should find a bottle of the recently introduced Stagg Junior. This is Buffalo Trace’s master distiller Harlen Wheatley’s latest creation and it is majestic. I was first introduced to it at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen in Dallas, so you might start your search there.

If you’re looking for a bottle of our Cowboy Bourbon, I’m afraid it’s too late. Every retailer I’ve spoken with says they no longer have any. But hold out hope. In 2015 we will release another 5,000 bottles of Cowboy Bourbon. All the barrels used for our Cowboy Bourbon will be a minimum of four years old. Donnis and I have already chosen the barrels. Now it’s just a matter of time in the barrel. And thanks to packaging discounts we’ll be able to secure, when it is re-released, it won’t be nearly as expensive as this inaugural release was.

Garrison Brothers Single Barrel (From Hye, Texas)

Vertical Spirit SafeFor years, bourbon fanatics have been asking us to introduce a Single Barrel Bourbon. It’s Hye time we did.

But there’s a catch. Liquor stores won’t be selling it. This fall we’re introducing Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey but it will only be available here at the distillery in Hye. We really like showing off what we do. We enjoy educating new friends about what goes into making fine bourbon and we love showing off the ranch. This is the best way we could think of to get you to pay us a visit.

Like our bourbon, each bottle will be truly unique. Our master distiller Donnis Todd will select a new barrel every week. As readers of this newsletter know, barrels leak and there’s always that pesky Angel’s Share (evaporation) problem. So we truly have no idea how many bottles of bourbon each barrel will yield. The problem is exacerbated because when Donnis finds a barrel he really likes, his taste-testing can get out of control. I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve opened up the barrel barn to find him alone in there asleep on the dirt floor next to a bourbon barrel with the Whiskey Thief laying across his chest.

Each week he’ll draw up his tasting notes for a particular barrel on a chalkboard and we’ll fill a few special bottles that are emblazoned with a silver Texas star with the bourbon from that barrel. We’ll insert corks into the bottles. Visitors to Garrison Brothers can then pick a bottle off the shelf and dip it in the silver wax to personalize their bottle. They can also imprint their college ring or their initials into the wax or write a message on the bottle. Then we’ll gift wrap it, hang a tag on the neck with the buyer’s name, and it’s theirs to take home with them.

We hope to introduce the Single Barrel here in Hye by November 1st. Subscribe to my blog at www.garrisonbros.com and I will keep you posted.

Make Your Own Damn Bourbon (The Barrel Selection Program)

TheBrandOnTheBarnAnother project we’re working on is the Barrel Selection Program. This project is designed for individuals or companies who want to give out dozens of bottles of their own personalized bourbon as Christmas gifts.

Barrel buyers who make a deposit with their local liquor store will be able to visit us in Hye and select their own personal barrel from our barns. They can also select the age of the bourbon, the bottling proof, and they can customize the individual bottles with their family’s name or their company’s colors. Buyers can even decide what wax color will be used to seal the bottle.

We will be setting aside just a dozen barrels every year for this program. Each three- or four-year old barrel should yield 45 to 60 bottles of bourbon depending on its age and the evaporation effect of the Angel’s Share. The gift-wrapped bottles will be delivered to the buyer’s local liquor store along with the barrel that was selected.

We hope to announce details about this program at www.garrisonbros.com in the next month. I should warn you: buying your own barrel of bourbon may be expensive.

Bourbon Dinners with Legendary Texas Chefs in Hye and Buffalo Gap

In 2013 we held bourbon pairing dinners with masterful Texas chefs at Hibiscus, Fredericksburg Herb Farm, The Hyatt in The Woodlands, Dallas Athletic Club, Royal Oaks Country Club and Westwood Country Club. Guests at each event were treated to delicious multi-course meals with each course paired with our bourbon. Two such dinners are planned this fall.

The Stillhouse Series Dinner with Chef Robert Del Grande on Saturday, November 2

RDG Bar AnnieLegendary Texas Chef Robert Del Grande (RDG + Bar Annie) will be preparing a multi-course dinner and pairing our bourbon vintages along with wines selected by Chris Brundrett at William Chris Vineyards. Dinner will be served in our barrel barn. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Hye Preservation Society. Tickets and tables can be reserved at http://secure.lenos.com/lenos/signal/StillhouseSeries2013/.

Wine & Whiskey from Highway 290 at Perini Ranch Steakhouse with Becker Vineyards, Garrison Brothers Distillery, and Celebrity Chef Tim Byres from SMOKE on Monday, November 18

PR Logo BW posJoin the gang from Garrison Brothers Distillery, Richard and Bunny Becker from Becker Vineyards, and guest chef Tim Byres from SMOKE at the Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas for an evening of gourmet cuisine, wine and whiskey. For those not familiar with the epicurean center of the universe, Buffalo Gap is just outside Abilene. Proceeds benefit the Buffalo Gap Food and Wine Festival. Reservations for this dinner can be made through Perini Ranch Steakhouse by calling Susan Cannan at (800) 367-1721.

Bourbon 101 Classes

If you are just getting into good bourbon or would like to learn more about the bourbon you’re currently drinking, please come to one of my Bourbon 101 classes. Though I will probably spend way too much time talking about myself and will occasionally go off on a bourbon-induced rant, the classes are fun and educational. We provide light appetizers and share a few hard to find vintages of Garrison Brothers’ bourbon.

Class Agenda:

  • Proper Tasting and Nosing
  • The History of America’s Greatest Spirit, before and after Prohibition
  • Straight Bourbon versus Brown Vodka
    • What is Whiskey?
    • Scotch, Irish, Canadian and Japanese Whiskey
    • Blended whiskey and Spirit whiskey
    • The ABCs of Bourbon Whiskey
  • My Story: From Software Marketing Guy to Glorified Moonshiner to Whiskey Peddler
  • How We Make Fine Straight Bourbon at Garrison Brothers Distillery
  • Understanding Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey Vintages

I currently have classes scheduled in October, November and December in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Humble, Missouri City, San Antonio and Waco.

The class itself lasts about an hour and a half with 30 minutes at the end for questions and gift bottle signings. The classes are held on a Wednesday or Thursday evening from 6 to 8pm. You can sign up for a class or view the class schedule at http://www.garrisonbros.com/garrison-brothers-events. Bring friends and I promise a good time. As always, the whiskey girls who attend get larger samples than the men.

Bourbon Behind Bars

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 9.21.27 AMBelieve it or not, unless they tell us, we rarely know what bars and restaurants serve Garrison Brothers bourbon. To find out, we launched a Facebook/Instagram promotion this month called BOURBON BEHIND BARS. We are asking you to send us a picture every time you see a bottle of Garrison Brothers behind a bar. At the end of October 2013, the Facebook or Instagram friend who posts the most BOURBON BEHIND BARS sightings wins a private bourbon tasting for them and 24 of their bourbon-swilling friends in their home or at the bar of their choice. One of the finest bourbon drinkers I’ve ever met, Mark Rivera, is currently leading this challenge.

Proprietor Dan Garrison and master distiller Donnis Todd will host the tasting and will provide a wide range of our favorite Garrison Brothers’ bourbons and Kentucky bourbons we like for guests to enjoy.

When you are out on the town, look for Garrison Brothers Bourbon bottles “behind bars” and take a picture of the bartender and the bottle of Garrison Brothers. Send the picture in Instagram with the hashtags #garrisonbros #bourbonbehindbars. Personally, I have no idea what this all means but savvy tech people assure me there are people out there who do. Please give us the name of the bartender and tag the bar in your photo so we can tell them thanks. That’s all ya gotta do to enter. You can learn more at: http://www.garrisonbros.com/bourbon-behind-bars.

Raising A Glass to Texans

“The first time you buy a bottle of Garrison Brothers, it seems outrageously expensive. Then you’ll buy two.”

I really believe that’s true. I know our bourbon is getting older with each new release. I also think our bourbon is getting better with every release.

With all this bullshit about “Texans causing trouble” you might think we don’t appreciate those of you who buy and enjoy our bourbon. Believe me, we do. From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you from all of us here in Hye. We truly appreciate your support. Salud!

Sharing and Enjoying Our Ambrosia

grittyWe want you to try Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. To that end, Donnis and I will be loading up our pick-ups with cases of bourbon and canvassing Texas this fall visiting with folks at liquor stores, bars and restaurants.

If you happen to be buying a bottle as a gift for someone special, please come see us so we can write a personal note on the back of the bottle. The Tasting and Bottle Signing schedule is posted on our website and is also available here. Please come visit with us.

Back at the Ranch

If you can’t find Garrison Brothers at a bar or store near your home, you can always come drink with us in Hye. You can smell and taste the corn cooking; walk through the fermentation rooms; nose and taste the “White Dog”; sample a little bourbon from one of our experimental releases; and ask all the questions you want. Trail bosses Stephanie and Chris will make you feel right at home.

WishYouWereHere-smWe offer tours and tastings Wednesday through Sunday at 10, noon, 2 and 4. Reservations can be made here: http://www.garrisonbros.com.

If you really want to get doused in Garrison Brothers, consider joining The Old 300. If you do, you’ll know more about fine bourbon whiskey than anyone in Texas and you’ll have a great time learning.

Finally, you don’t have to come all the way to Hye to pick up some Garrison Brothers gear. We’ve launched Garrison Brothers’ Dry Goods Store. There you’ll find t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and cool bourbon shit.

Vaya con Dios. Have a great fall.

Kind regards,



Dan Garrison
Proprietor and Distiller

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Carnivores and Bourbon Drinkers Unite!

Ye Shall Know The Truth and The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Ye Shall Know The Truth and The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Yeah, I know: Texans have once again drank the state dry of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Last week I promised to bring a few bottles to tailgate parties. But after visiting four Twin Liquors, two Specs, and Cypress Valley Spirits, I was only able to find three bottles. As I understand it every Twin Liquors in Central Texas is once again SOLD OUT.

To our friends and neighbors here in Texas who are drinking all that bourbon we want to say THANKS! But it may be Hye time we had a little conversation about moderation.

I wanted to let you know about a couple of bourbon-infused events that are coming up soon (assuming we can find some bourbon somewhere).

Carnivore’s Ball

If you’re a fan of great Texas barbecue, you will not want to miss the Carnivore’s Ball at Ceres Park Ranch on Sunday, September 15. Arguably the best brisket smoker in Texas, legendary pitmaster John Mueller, will be feeding the masses. I’ll be sharing bourbon with the guests between 5 and 5:30. Then we’ll all get good and greasy with ribs and brisket.

Reservations can be made here but you better make them quick: https://burgermary.ticketbud.com/carnivoresball

Bourbon 101 at Sigels Elite in Dallas

So far, I’ve hosted five Bourbon 101 classes across Texas. Each has sold out and those who come to tell us they learn a lot and have a great time. The next will be at Sigels Elite in Dallas on Fitzhugh on September 18 from 6 to 8pm. We’ll provide light appetizers, a few different vintages of our bourbon and gift bags for everyone who attends. To make a reservation, send an email with your contact information and the number of guests you’ll have to: store04@sigels.com.

We’re slowly adding more Bourbon 101 Classes to the events section of our website and hope to host one in San Antonio and Austin soon.  Check out http://garrisonbros.com/garrison-brothers-events to find out when I’m heading to your neck of the woods.

See you soon.

Dan Garrison


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Reserve 101, Bourbon 101 and An Event for Entrepreneurs

First, I want to let you know that almost all the bottles of Garrison Brothers bourbon we’ve ever introduced are now completely sold out.  All 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages are completely gone. Only 200 cases of the Spring 2013 Vintage remain in our distributor’s warehouses.  If you see one of these bottles in your local liquor store, you have found a rarity, and I’d love to share it with you. Call me.

To that end, we owe a great big thank you to our fellow Texans. We truly appreciate your support. The next release, the Fall 2013 Vintage, will start hitting stores around October 1 of this year. Between now and then, it’ll be slim pickins.

However, we are putting on a few dog and pony shows around Texas in August, and at some of these, we’ll be sampling the precious bottles we’ve been hording at Garrison Brothers Distillery.

Fireside Chat at Reserve 101 in Houston on Tuesday, August 13 at 6:30

garrison-brothers-tasting326Owners Mike Raymond and Steve Long might need to change the name of their establishment to Whiskey 101. There are few bars in America with such an extensive selection of exotic bourbons and whiskeys. I’ll be sitting by the fireplace talking bourbon with Mike this evening and we’ll have plenty of bourbon for you to taste, including Garrison Brothers vintages-gone-by. As knowledgeable as Mike is about whiskey, and as un-politically correct as I can be about brown vodkas, it should make for an interesting little “sit and sip.”

Reservations are recommended and can be made at www.reserve101.com/whiskey-tastings-houston. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds benefit Lucky Dog Rescue.


Dallas Entrepreneurs Center Happy Hour on August 21 from 5 to 7:30

If your interest leans more toward business than bourbon, please join me and the Dallas Entrepreneurial Center for a discussion and happy hour at The Softlayer Building on Stemmons Expressway.  We’ll be pouring bourbon for guests and I’ll discuss what’s involved with starting your own liquor business.

We’ll talk about the regulatory environment, capitalization requirements, and the business and personal planning and sacrifices that are required. You have my word that I will answer the hard questions too. For me, business is personal, so this should be fun.

Reservations can be made at http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7124982013. Attendance is limited to the first 80 who RSVP.

Ye Shall Know The Truth and The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Ye Shall Know The Truth and The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Bourbon 101 at Specs on Central in Dallas on August 22 from 6 to 8

Join me at the enormous Specs on Central Expressway in Dallas for Bourbon 101. In addition to sampling a delicious appetizer plate from Spec’s kitchens, we’ll taste three different vintages of Garrison Brothers bourbon. Discussion topics will include:

  • Proper Nosing and Tasting of Fine Whiskey
  • My story: Hill Country Moonshiner to Glorified Whiskey Peddler
  • Prohibition and its Lasting Effect on Whiskey in America
  • Scotch, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, Blended Whiskeys and Brown Vodkas
  • How We Make Fine Bourbon at Garrison Brothers Distillery
  • The Strange Fringe Benefits of The Whiskey Business

We’ll also have a little bag of door prizes for each attendee. To register, and this will sell out soon, call 214-369-2800 and ask to speak with the manager on duty. Email me at dan@garrisonbros.com if you have any trouble making this reservation.

So gang, summer’s over! Time to throw out the skinny margaritas and the light beer and get back to the more serious business of drinking great bourbon. Hope you can join me.


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JD in Barrel Suit

If you’re headed to the Hill Country this summer, plan your trip for this coming weekend, June 21st, for the Stonewall Peach Jamboree and Rodeo — undoubtedly the greatest display of pure, country, redneck-Americana one can experience. The 52ND Annual Peach Jamboree, Parade and Rodeo is THIS Friday and Saturday.

There’s a rodeo and dance each night. The Peach Parade meanders through town Saturday morning at 10 am. Garrison Brothers Distillery will have a float in the parade — look for the really pretty girls and the really ugly boys with beards — and we’re sponsoring the Barrel Races at the rodeo. If this all sounds hokey as hell to you, well, GET OVER IT AND PUT YOUR BOOTS ON!

Immediately after the parade, at 12:30, everybody is invited back to Garrison Brothers Distillery for a fried chicken lunch in our barrel barn. Come early though because we will run out of chicken and lunch is first come, first-served. We’ll have the legendary Charlie Montague playing off the back porch at The Barrel Barn. And we’ll be auctioning off some of the most beautiful whiskey and wine barrels you’ve ever seen.

Lunch is BYOB and we’ll be asking for $20 a person. We will donate most of the proceeds to The Hye Preservation Society. The “boys round here” bought the first 150 tickets so only 104 tickets remain available. When it’s sold out, it’s sold out.

Since we’ve got tons of chicken to fry, there are no refunds on tickets unless you get run over by a parade float. If you’re going to join us for lunch, you can buy tickets at http://www.garrisonbros.com/tour. Just click on the box that says WINNER, WINNER CHICKEN DINNER.

We’ll also announce this on our Facebook page in the next few days at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garrison-Brothers-Distillery/157733482684?ref=hl. But by then, tickets may already be sold out.

You can learn more about everything going on at the Stonewall Peach Parade and buy event tickets at http://www.stonewalltexas.com/peach_jamboree.html

We hope to see ya’ll here.

Kind regards,

Dan Garrison

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Finally Summertime in Texas

FloatRideAlong Extra Small

Wanted to let ya’ll know about a few Garrison Brothers bourbon tastings and events happening around our great state this June. Hope you can come out and have a drink with me.

Bourbon Pairing Dinner at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm

Thursday evening, June 13, Fredericksburg

Chef Taylor Fraser has taken over the kitchen at the gorgeous Herb Farm and is making a name for himself. He’s starting dinner off with an amuse bouche that will be his little surprise. Then on to Wagyu beef carpaccio and heirloom tomato. Then an heirloom melon gazpacho with lump crab. Next we dive into a buttery entrée of surf ‘n turf pork belly and prawns. As we sit back and glow in the banter and the bourbon, he’ll present fried banana croquettes, or as he describes dessert: cornflake-crusted fried nanners, with salted caramel ice cream and local honey bourbon syrup. Of course, multiple vintages of our bourbon will be tasted and discussed between courses.

Nimitz Golf Classic at Boot Ranch

Friday morning, June 14, Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg

Somehow, after the exquisite dinner the night before, my crew and I will be up before sunrise loading coolers with bourbon, ice tea, and lemonade for the John Daly’s we’ll be serving to golfers at a beautiful par three on the legendary Hal Sutton-designed Boot Ranch golf course. This is a member-guest tournament, so it’s not open to everyone. But I know more than a few Boot Ranch members are readers of this newsletter, so I felt obliged to mention that we’re excited being out there amidst the WWII fly-overs, the skeet shooting and the mortar blasts. Only in Texas, and only at Boot Ranch, can you actually play 18 holes in a live war zone with a 12-guage in your golf bag.

Bourbon Tasting and Bourbon 101 at Sienna Wine and Spirits

Saturday, June 15 at 2:00, Sienna Wine and Spirits in Missouri City

Sunrise on Saturday morning, our master distiller Donnis Todd and I will be heading south for a bourbon tasting and mini-bourbon 101 class at Sienna Wine and Spirits in Missouri City. This little store is exceptional. They run the business the old-fashioned way, where the staff knows their customers by name and their customers’ liquor preferences by name. It’s one of those rare, warm places where you can walk in and say “I’m looking for a bottle of Chardonnay but can’t remember the name. I think it starts with the letter S.” Mysteriously, they will somehow identify what you’re talking about and find you that bottle.

Bourbon Tasting and Bourbon 101 Talk at Premier Fine Wine and Spirits

Saturday, June 15 at 5:30, Premier Fine Wine and Spirits in The Heights

If you’re opening a restaurant or bar, you’re justifiably selective about the wine and spirits you’re going to serve. In The Heights, you’ll want to come to Premier Fine Wine and Spirits. They have an excellent bourbon selection and knowledgeable, helpful people working there who will help you find what you need and help design your beverage menus. Donnis and I will be pouring a variety of our bourbons there. We’ll also talk about the history of bourbon in American, America’s “prohibition hangover”, how bourbon’s made, and how we make it at Garrison Brothers.


Saturday, June 22 at 12:30, Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye

Hye’s sister city Stonewall, Texas puts on a red, white and blue extravaganza the third weekend in June. A small town, family-friendly rodeo, peach eating contests, washer pitching tournaments, and an enormous morning parade. Visualize rodeo cowgirls in daisy dukes or satiny, flowing peach queen dresses; Wranglered-up, belt-buckle-adorned cowboys trying to impress; painted antique tractors that run like tops; and hilarious redneck-engineered parade floats meandering through the side streets of one of the prettiest and friendliest towns in Texas. (Did I mention that the Garrison Brothers parade float has earned a blue ribbon two years running.)

After Saturday’s parade, everyone is invited back to the Barrel Barn at Garrison Brothers for bourbon and fried chicken. Tickets are $20 and only 250 will be sold, and the proceeds go to the Hye Preservation Society.  ”Locals only” and “friends and family” tickets are on sale now at the cabin at the distillery during tour days (Wednesday thru Sunday). If we have tickets remaining next week, we’ll announce here how you can get a hold of them.

Precision Camera Photography Seminar

Sunday, June 23 at noon, Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye

Join hosts Gregg Burger of Precision Camera and photographer Scott Sitkiewitz at Garrison Brothers Distillery. We’ll provide a fried chicken dinner, bourbon samples and a tour of the distillery for the photographers in attendance. Participation is $49 per person and reservations can be made through Precision Camera at this link: http://precisioncamerauniversity.com/garrison-brothers/

Guest Bartender at Local Pour in Houston

Wednesday, June 26 at 6pm, Local Pour in River Oaks

After all these fancy dinners and hoity toity events, it’ll be nice to kick back with a bottle, Jamie and some friends at Local Pour in River Oaks.

Guest Bartender at Scotty’s Pub in Houston

Wednesday, June 26 at 9pm, Scotty’s Pub in downtown Houston

Later that evening, we’ll pour ourselves into a cab and head south of Houston to Scotty’s Pub for a little more bourbon and bullshitting with Scotty Sexton and his whiskey drinkers. I’ll be the guest bartender that night.

Hope to see you guys at a couple of these events. Thanks so much for your support!

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The Cowboy Rides Away

Garrison Brothers' Cowboy Bourbon

Garrison Brothers’ Cowboy Bourbon



Last week was bittersweet in Hye, Texas. A distributor’s truck arrived and hauled off an amazing little bourbon.

“Little” may apply to the 375-ml size of the bottle, but nothing else is little about Garrison Brothers’ Cowboy Bourbon. This is the first new bourbon we have introduced since we released Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey on Texas Independence Day in 2010.  This bourbon is uncut and unfiltered, straight from the barrel, weighing in at 136 proof. It is not for the faint of heart and certainly not for casual drinking.  It is a limited release – just 600 bottles – of the finest bourbon we’ve ever made.

At Garrison Brothers Distillery we have bottled bourbon from more than 500 barrels so far. The ten best tasting barrels we’ve ever discovered were held back and hidden for almost four years. The few precious drops of bourbon remaining in those barrels is our Cowboy Bourbon. It won’t be introduced again until 2015.

I asked our distributor to hold back a portion of these bottles for the five Hill Country Liquor Stores (in Blanco and Gillespie Counties) who have been so instrumental in helping us get this business off the ground. The Cowboy will ride into these towns on Friday, May 10 or Saturday, May 11. I would anticipate that stores in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and other Texas towns will receive their allocated bottles a week or two later.

If you’re looking for a bottle, you are more likely to find one at stores who have been selling Garrison Brothers from the get-go.

Like all Cowboys, this one probably won’t stick around too long.

And I should warn you, it may set you back a little. We’re anticipating retailers will price these rare bottles at $159.99 to $169.99. We won’t be announcing this publicly until Tuesday, May 14. So …  you’re the first to know.

posted by Dan Garrison in Blog and have Comments (6)

Making Whiskey and Sausage at the State Capitol


They’re back and they’re ready to make some sausage. Texas legislators have once again invaded the state capitol in Austin. For those who follow this biennial pilgrimage of our esteemed leaders to the nation’s largest state capitol building, this is a time of hope, or more likely, a time to have one’s hopes crushed like grapes.

Personally, my whiskey glass is always half full. So once again I approach this legislative session with a positive belief in the virtue of mankind. Call me crazy but I believe our state’s leaders are generally good people performing a public service that nobody else would seriously consider. Are they occasionally led astray? Sure. But who isn’t? The fact of the matter is that public service is not easy, glamorous or popular but somebody has to do it. So, I am thankful to these men and women for their service.

One Senator in particular, Senator Leticia Van De Putte of San Antonio, appears to truly believe in fair play for the little guy and economic progress for the state of Texas. Just when I thought she’d given up on Texas distillers, like a pointer on a covey of quail (meant very respectfully), she has introduced and begun to champion a series of bills that could create significant opportunities for craft distilleries, and help grow the Texas economy, even as state liquor tax revenues are increased. Watching her take on the lobbyist establishment (the lions swishing their tails from the gallery) is a beauty to behold; she eats them alive.

Here’s a quick summary of those bills I believe in and why I do. If you share my sense of justice, please let your state senator or representative know how you feel. A complete list of contact information for your representatives can be found here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

  • Ever Visit a Distillery and Leave Empty-handed? Despite our best efforts to educate, entertain, and be Texas friendly to those who visit Garrison Brothers Distillery, many visitors leave a little upset. Why? They just spent an hour and a half of their valuable vacation time learning everything about making great bourbon whiskey. Then, they come to the end of the tour to learn they can’t even buy a bottle. This is particularly frustrating to the thousands who visit our distillery from other states or countries where they can’t buy Garrison Brothers anyway?

    Senate Bill 905 (Van De Putte, Carona and Eltife) and companion House Bill 1997 (Kuempel) will correct this craziness and permit craft distilleries to sell a small amount of souvenir or commemorative bottles to visitors for off-premise consumption. The bill also permits craft distilleries to sell their products as cocktails or drinks for on-premise consumption, but those of us at Garrison Brothers aren’t real interested in running a bar or lounge, so we’ll leave that to the hipsters and city-slickers in urban areas.

  • If You Think You’re Drinking Good Texas Whiskey Now, Just Wait a Little While. If you have visited Garrison Brothers, you already know that we make a sweet mash that is fermented to become distiller’s beer. Well, the great state of Texas has some legendary beer makers too. Think St. Arnold’s. Think Shiner. Think Real Ale. What if they could share their beer with Texas distilleries and we could distill that beer into whiskey or schnapps? The same principle applies to Texas wines. Fermented Texas grapes can become magical brandies, cognacs and eau de vies. Imagine the possibilities! I sure am.

    Senate Bill 652 (Van De Putte) would allow Texas distilleries, wineries and breweries to buy distilled spirits, wine and beer in bulk from each other thus creating entirely new and previously un-imaginable types of beverages. Though I really don’t give a shit about anything but straight bourbon, I would like to see what kinds of bourbon I could make with some of the beer from Real Ale. This bill would give me that chance.

  • Want Texas Bourbon in Your Barbecue Sauce? Currently, makers of food products like candies, chocolates, barbecue sauce and chili can apply for an industrial use permit from the TABC. If they obtain this permit, they are allowed to buy distilled spirits from craft distilleries to use in their confections. The problem is: the existing TABC code prohibits craft distilleries from selling them their spirits.So, instead, they buy their bourbon from Kentucky or Tennessee. Stubbs barbecue sauce is made with Kentucky bourbon. Ever been to Chili’s? Their baby back ribs are coated with Jack Daniels barbecue sauce. Ever bought Garrison Brothers’ bourbon-filled chocolates from Chocolat in Fredericksburg and wondered why they were so outrageously expensive compared to all their other chocolates? Now you know.

    Senate Bill 642 (Van De Putte) will correct this inconsistency in the code and allow Texas distilleries to sell bulk tax-paid bourbon to these fine food processing companies, thus creating an entirely new category of Texas-produced gastronomic delicacies. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

So, that provides a menu of the whiskey-related sausage currently being ground up at the Texas Capitol. If you think some of this sausage sounds pretty good, please let your legislator know how you feel.


posted by Dan Garrison in Blog and have Comments (13)

Texas Bourbon News, Spring 2013

The Tipping Pint

The Tipping Point for a Bottle of Garrison Brothers Bourbon

This is an exciting time for The Best Little Stillhouse in Texas™.  As I write these words, an order for 14 cases just came in from Pinkie’s Liquor Stores in West Texas. Yesterday, Landry’s Inc. reserved the last 16 cases of The Fall 2011 Vintage for their properties (McCormick & Schmicks, Morton’s of Chicago, Willie G’s and the Tower of the Americas). In Dallas, 20 cases vanished from Republic National Distributing Company’s warehouse in the past 24 hours.

Thanks in no small part to the fine folks at Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine (see the story here), seems like word is getting out about our little “redneck-distilled” bourbon.

We’re bottling The Spring 2013 Vintage now and I can’t wait to tell you about it. But first, I feel the need to rant!

Enough with the Brown Vodka

If you’ve been to our distillery in Hye, you’re probably aware that we refer to “blended whiskies,”  “spirit whiskies” and bulk-bottled-bourbon as brown vodka. (Admittedly, I stole the term from Chuck Cowdery … because it’s such a good one.)

The reason for our disdain is that the government’s standards of identity state that “spirit whiskey” can be a combination of as little as 5% actual whiskey. The other 95% of the liquid is grain neutral spirit, also known as vodka. “Blended whiskies” only have to contain 20% straight whiskey. The remainder? You guessed it.

Worse still, if a bottler is not happy with the resulting color or taste of their artificial spirit, they can add wood chips, red dye #7, caramel coloring, or vanilla flavoring and still call it whiskey! When you put this all in a bottle and shake it up, what you have is brown vodka. (It’s perfectly legal by the way: Many of the “Texas whiskies on store shelves today were cooked, fermented, distilled and barreled in Canada, Indiana or Kentucky. The faux craft distillers just add water to it and bottle it.)

But some people like brown vodka. And more power to them. In fact, since we started our little operation in 2005, today there are now dozens of “craft whiskies” on the shelves at Texas liquor stores that claim to be made all over America. Some of these fine products are actually made (cooked, mashed, distilled, barreled and bottled) in Texas. Others are simply bottled here.

I think some of the finest craft distilled spirits in the world are being made right here in Texas. But it’s very difficult for the small quality-focused distillers like Railean Distillery and Ranger Creek Distillery and Brewery to compete with the mass producers who buy spirits in bulk and just slap a “Made in Texas” label on it.

It’s not becoming of me to criticize other brands by name and I’m not going to do it here. But I do want to offer some advice to those who actually give a shit about what goes into their body. There are ways to tell the difference between brown vodka and real bourbon.

  1. Study the producer’s statement. By law, all bottles must feature what’s called a “producer’s statement” somewhere on the bottle.  The language of these statements normally reads “Distilled and bottled by Rocky Spring Distillery in Rocky Spring, Tennessee” or “Produced and bottled by Old Goat Distillery in Goat, Kentucky.”Does the producer’s statement say “made in Texas” or “Texas made?” Does it say “distilled in Texas” or does it say “produced” or “bottled” in Texas. These words should provide a clue. If they are making their own juice from scratch, you can bet your ass they’ll want to tell you so.
  2. Hold a bottle of that whiskey up to the light, preferably next to a bottle of Garrison Brothers Straight Bourbon. Is it yellow? Is it pale? Does one bottle look like it might be brown vodka? If it does, it probably is.
  3. Visit the distillery that makes the spirit and watch them make it. If they let you in, ask questions.  If all they show you is a bottling line, then they may have already answered your question. Just maybe, that’s all they really do.

Bourbon 101 Classes

If you enjoy listening to me rant about things like this, you may be a little bit crazy. If you are, consider attending my Bourbon 101 Classes coming up this spring and summer at Specs stores throughout Texas. In between the bitching and drinking, we’ll discuss how bourbon whiskey is made; the differences between bourbon whiskey, Scotch Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Canadian Whiskey, Blended Whiskey and Spirit Whiskey; and the proper way to “nose” whiskey. We’ll also talk about the liquor industry and America’s ridiculous Prohibition Hangover.

  • March 28, 6 to 8 – Spec’s in Austin  at 4970 West U.S. Highway 290, Austin Texas
  • April 18, 6 to 8 – Spec’s in Houston at 2410 Smith Street, Houston, Texas
  • May 16, 6 to 8 – Spec’s in Fort Worth at 4720 Bryant Irvin, Fort Worth, Texas
  • August 22, 6 to 8 – Spec’s Dallas at 9500 North Central Expressway, Dallas, Texas

Since Spec’s doesn’t value my rants as much as I do, the classes are free. We’ll have appetizers and hard-to-come-by samples of the few remaining vintages of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey for you to taste. To make a reservation, call 832-660-0250.

Future classes will be held at Twin Liquors too and we’ll have these up on our calendar soon. You can always learn more about Garrison Brothers Bourbon “happenings” across the great state of Texas at http://www.garrisonbros.com/garrison-brothers-events.

The Redneck Maquiladora, Back In Action

As Santa Anna’s Mexican army approached the Alamo, twenty-six-year-old Colonel William Barrett Travis drew his sword with a flourish and slowly marked a line in the sand. “I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line,” he said. Every man but one did just that.

Once again this February, the daring, camaraderie and generosity of Texans brought a big ol Texas smile to my fat, bearded, liver-spotted face.

Roughly 150 brave warriors descended on our distillery in Hye to help us bottle The Spring 2013 Vintage of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Bottling always reminds me that we can “out-redneck” just about anyone and those Duck Dynasty boys have nothing on us. There were veterans in the group, like the board of directors of the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) who come help every time. (They also drink more bourbon and beer than Hank Williams Junior and Senior combined.)

But we also had a rag-tag bunch of first-timers, who we affectionately refer to as FNGs. Between the occasional quality control samples, the plentiful cases of Real Ale, Shiner Bock and Lone Star, and the mediocre-at-best breakfasts and lunches, we somehow managed to fill, cork, bottle, wax, polish, sign and carton about 7,000 bottles.


As always, our incredible, hospitable crew managed to keep a bourbon-infused smile on everyone’s face. There was an occasional food fight. Spontaneous dances broke out to Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson songs. Everyone sang along to Mexican Dog by Chute Nine and Georgia On a Fast Train by Billie Joe Shaver. Lasting friendships were made. Bourbon vanished. And everyone left … happy … happy … happy.

The two weeks of bottling were made all the more interesting when a pair of TTB Agents – that’s right, Revenooers – decided to make an unannounced appearance right in the middle of the chaos and conduct a full blown audit of our operation.

For those who weren’t able to participate, please be patient with us. More than 900 Texans have now offered to cross over that line in the sand and help out. We are working everyone in as fast as we can. This fall, we’ll be bottling for six-weeks-straight beginning September 1, so we’re really gonna need more rednecks.

If you want to cross that line, please send an email with your contact information to our Bottling Queen Laurel Hoekstra at laurel@garrisonbros.com.

The Spring 2013 Vintage — Where in the Hell Did This Bourbon Come From?

As most know, we release two vintages a year — one in the fall and one in the spring. Each vintage differs considerably from the previous and we take great pride in assuring each vintage has a different and unique flavor profile.

Like Texans, bourbon barrels have their own personality and character. A handsomely constructed, smooth grained, four-year-old barrel can yield a spirit that tastes like paint thinner. A poorly built two-year old, with visible leaks and knots in the wood, can yield the nectar of the Gods. You just never know.

Some of this has to do with the Texas climate. Heat and humidity can be bourbon’s friends. Sometimes it’s a result of where that barrel was stored, closer to the sun, or on the lowest rick of the barrel barn, underneath hundreds of other barrels.

This is the reason that my master distiller Donnis Todd and I taste every barrel of Garrison Brothers bourbon BEFORE we decide if it’s ready to be bottled. When it’s ready, it’s ready. If it’s not, we’ll put it back in the barn. If it’s not ever going to get there, it might fall victim to an accidental spill (which brings tears to our eyes).

That is why I am so excited about The Spring 2013 Vintage of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Every barrel we selected was two and half years old or older. They spent the first two years of their lives baking in our “hot boxes” soaking up the warm Texas sunshine. Then, we transferred them to our finishing barn to cool them down and let them breathe.

Spring 2013 Vintage Tasting Notes

Everyone’s palette is different. How you taste things is a combination of memories and associations from your past. You might fondly remember the cinnamon toast your mom made when you were a kid. You might recall sweetness as a memory of the first time you tasted an exquisite glass of Bourdeau. My own tasting notes are comprised of similar associations that “tasting and nosing” my bourbon bring to mind. So, when you taste it, and you should, you may have a very different reaction.

Amber, gold and honey appearance. Crystals of floating flavor in the light. Earthy nose with cloves. A pleasant effervescent, brown sugar sting along the middle of the tongue. Strong licorice, but nutmeg, toasted almonds, cloves and cinnamon also explode in your mouth. Lingering, blissful finish of cayenne, cocoa and chili powder.

Best served straight up so you can enjoy the sugars from the oak, but if you add a few cubes of ice, you’ll be shocked at how the sweet flavor of the corn reveals itself.

All 118 barrels that went into this release were tasted and selected by Donnis Todd and he did an outstanding job. (Dulce Vida Spirits bought all of the emptied barrels to age their superb Lone Star Edition Anejo Tequila.)

If you are a bourbon bottle collector, look out for bottles numbered 4,753 and higher. These were all signed and numbered by Donnis while I was out on the road living the life of a glorified whiskey peddler.

Nine hundred cases of this bourbon are currently on their way to fine liquor stores across the great state of Texas. The suggested retail price is $69.95 but you know it will be higher on the shelf and there ain’t much I can do about it.

Glorified Whiskey Peddler

According to Peter Krass’s excellent 2004 biography, Blood and Whiskey, Jasper Newton Daniel (or Jack as we all know him today) did not lead a glamorous life. Most of his time was spent on the road hauling barrels of whiskey by horse-drawn wagon to saloons and mercantile stores. He was a salesman. He was a whiskey peddler.

I think about that as I’m driving my beat-to-hell 2007 Dodge truck all over the back-roads of Texas. The truck is full of cases of bourbon. The truck reeks of the delicious aroma of bourbon — vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, honey — and usually so do I.

But I never drive drunk. At tastings and dinners, I have a drink or two with the hosts and guests early on but then I quietly switch to soda, water or coffee for the last two hours of the event. I also keep the Yeti cooler in the back of my truck loaded down with bottles of water and I always chug a few water bottles before I hit the road to the next gig.

As I write this, I am in Lubbock for a happy hour at the Jones AT&T Football Stadium at Texas Tech. I’ll have Lubbock in my rearview mirror tomorrow morning at 5 am (sounds like a Mac Davis song) when I leave for Austin, hopefully arriving in time to share bourbon with attendees at the Cattle Baron’s Ball for the American Cancer Society. The week after that, it’s Houston, Dallas, Hye, Round Rock, and La Grange. Then in April, I have been asked to serve as the keynote speaker at the American Distilling Institute Conference in Denver, Colorado.

To the uninitiated, this may seem a glamorous life. It ain’t! I put 60,000 miles on my truck last year. I rarely see my family or my crew at the distillery (whom, thankfully, can run the place without me). And I sleep in the cheapest motels my Hotwire app can find. Tonight it’s a Best Western (and if this is truly their Best, they ain’t bringing their A-game).

The Yeti cooler in my truck is loaded with health food — fruit, nuts, salads, and meat — so I don’t have to stop at the endless procession of Whataburgers, Sonics and Taco Bells. Last night’s dinner on the road — in the snow somewhere between Dalhart and Amarillo — was Walmart frozen shrimp, elegantly served from a plastic motel ice bucket, lifted from a Motel 6 in Grand Prairie.

I think that if Jack Daniel was alive today, he’d say: “Quit your bitchin son; we got mouths to feed.” And he’d be right. But the job does have its perks. Every night I drink great bourbon with a few new friends. And to that … Salud!

Eating and Drinking Well

A few exciting dinners and events are coming up soon. I hope to see you and drink with you at one soon.

  • Monday, March 4 – Four Curse Bourbon Pairing Dinner with Chef Jason Ferraro at Hibiscus
    in Dallas
  • Thursday, March 21 – Bourbon Pairing Dinner with Chef Scott Reed at Homefield Grill
    in Round Rock
  • Friday, March 22 – Guest Bartender at Frank’s Americana Revival in River Oaks
  • Thursday, April 11 – Lone Star Libations & Culinary Creations at The Hyatt Market Center
    in The Woodlands

Information about how to RSVP to any of these events can be found at http://www.garrisonbros.com/garrison-brothers-events.

Cowboy Bourbon and Senate Bill Whatever

I promised many of you that I would give our newsletter readers advance notice about when the first completely new bourbon from Garrison Brothers – our Cowboy Bourbon — will be introduced. But we have decided to delay this until a little later in the year to give liquor stores and our distributor more time to prepare for the bull ride.

If you’re hoping to get a bottle – there will only be six hundred available –you’ll have to sign up for my blog at www.garrisonbros.com. I can promise that this announcement will happen very soon.

I also promised to let you know about the bill at the Texas legislature that will permit little distilleries like ours to sell a souvenir bottle directly to distillery visitors. Sadly, though I’m sure our state representatives are working tirelessly on it, a bill number has not yet been assigned. As soon as one is, I will get the word out to our followers and friends. We would seriously appreciate any help you can provide convincing our state’s leaders to pass this legislation.

Welcome Laurel Hoekstra and Jason Brand to The Garrison Brothers Family!

If you’ve visited us here in Hye, these handsome people are already familiar faces.

Laurel Hoekstra has been working for us part-time for almost two years. She’s responsible for coordinating all of our bottling activities. Though completely deaf and partially blind, she somehow seems to make everything work flawlessly. She also occasionally pats me on the butt when I’m signing bottles, which makes me feel 16 years old again. (Honey, please take note.) Laurel now joins us full time and she has a monumental task ahead of her since we’ve decided to keep the Redneck Bottling Maquiladora in place for the unforeseeable future.

Jason Brand joined us part-time in 2012 as The Mash Man. His former career as a broadway actress just wasn’t paying the rent. Hell, look at him. We were sympathetic and took him under our wing. Like many on our crew, Jason served our country in the Army, and believe it or not, is also an ordained minister. We call him The Reverend. Today, Jason runs our entire kitchen solo and will soon start distilling. Starting before the sun comes up and finishing well after dark, he grinds grain, fills tanks, spit-shines kettles and makes the finest tasting distillers’ beer in the country. He’d probably want me to tell you he’s single and available but I should warn the ladies out there that there’s a family of squirrels living in his beard.

Please join me in welcoming these two wonderful people to the team.

Drink All We Can and Sell the Rest

Please remember that if you can’t find Garrison Brothers near your home or can’t afford it, you can always come share bourbon with us in Hye. We conduct tours Wednesday through Sunday at 10, noon, 2 and 4. Stephanie will make you feel at home. This ain’t a wine tour though. We don’t have a “tasting room.” We don’t offer artisan cheeses. And we don’t sell candles or lace doilies.

You can smell and taste the corn cooking; walk through the fermentation rooms; nose and taste the “White Dog”; sample a little bourbon from one of our releases; and ask all the questions you want. No need to call ahead; we can always make room for a few more. But we strongly recommend you come VERY early on Saturdays. We have had so many people come out on recent Saturdays that soon we’re going to have to put a reservation system in place.

If you are looking for Garrison Brothers’ gear, there’s no need to drive all the way out to Hye. We’ve launched Garrison Brothers’ Dry Goods Store. You’ll find t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and cool bourbon shit there.

Vaya con Dios. We’ll check back in with ya’ll in the fall.

Kind regards,



Dan Garrison
Proprietor and Distiller

posted by Dan Garrison in Spring 2013 Newsletter and have Comments (41)

Christmas Update

Garrison Brothers Article in Spirit Magazine

When you signed up for this newsletter, I promised I’d send it just twice a year to keep from cluttering your in-box. Well, I lied.

Here’s why: Yesterday, a 10-page story about Garrison Brothers Distillery broke in Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, Spirit. When senior editor Alison Miller originally approached us about it, we knew it was going to be a big deal for our little business, but we never expected such an extensive and beautifully written profile. Alison, God bless her, captured what we’re all about.


The magazine has 3.2 million readers nationwide but there are only 1,500 cases of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey available in stores somewhere in Texas (100 cases of the fall 2011 vintage; 400 of the spring 2012; and 1,000 of the fall 2012). In other words, stores will soon be sold out. And we won’t have any more bourbon mature enough to bottle until spring 2013!

Since many of our friends have made giving a bottle of  Garrison Brothers for Christmas a Texas tradition, we wanted to make sure you know that if you want a bottle or a case, you should get to stores quickly. If they are already sold out, please make sure the store manager starts a waiting list.

Also, if you’re in a Texas airport this Christmas, please stop by The Antlers Bar or any Pappas Restaurant and ask for a tall glass of Garrison Brothers. They’ve told us they’ll be serving it.

We sure appreciate your support. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas to all!

Kind regards,



Dan Garrison
Proprietor and Distiller

P.S. The manager of Bob’s Chop House on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas told us she would not taste Garrison Brothers because no one was ordering the other Texas whiskies she’d put behind the bar. If ya’ll could let her know how you feel about that by stopping by and requesting a glass, we’d sure appreciate it.

posted by Dan Garrison in Blog and have Comments (6)

Texas Bourbon News, Fall 2012

It is my great honor to report that Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey is now, finally, distributed and available throughout the great state of Texas!

But before I tell you about this new vintage and where you can get a bottle, I have something else I want to get off my chest.

A Word About Authenticity

Visitors to Garrison Brothers like to tell me: “My favorite bourbon is Old Goat brand.” (Substitute any name you want for “Old Goat”). Everyone has their favorite bourbon and that’s great. But it always makes me laugh because there’s so much more to bourbon than a brand name.

Sometimes you’ve got to be careful. Before bragging to your buddies that Old Goat is the best bourbon you’ve ever tasted; you might want to look into who the makers are and the distillery that makes it. It’s highly likely that your prized bottle of Old Goat is nothing more than a mass-produced, bottom-shelf bourbon in a goat-shaped bottle. And you may be paying $20 for that bottle!

(By the way, this same logic applies to whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, wine and beer.)

The truth is: there are more than 150 bourbon brands on liquor stores shelves. Yet there are only about a dozen distilleries in America making bourbon. If I considered myself a bourbon expert, I’d want to understand how that’s possible. Could it be that it’s all the same bourbon from one single distillery but each bottle has a different label? Might the only difference between the brands be the proof? The age?  The bottle? The goat?

The best way to determine the authenticity of YOUR bourbon is to visit the distillery that makes it and see them make it. If they let you in, ask questions: Where do they get their grain? Do they have grain silos? How do they grind and cook that grain? Do you smell fresh cornbread? Do they have fermentation tanks?  You’ll smell the beer fermenting if they do, trust me.

If they won’t let you see the operation, well then, they must not be very proud of what they do.

If you find all of this as interesting as I do and want to learn more, I encourage you to read Chuck Cowdery’s story,  Who Made My Bourbon?, in the fall 2012 issue of John Hansell’s Whiskey Advocate.  No one is better at tackling sensitive and potentially embarrassing issues with delicacy than Chuck. If you really want to dig up some dirt, consider joining the forums at www.straightbourbon.com. These guys really know their bourbon.

Vaya Con Dios Mis Ninos

Tears welled up in my eyes as they left the distillery last week. Nine thousand bottles of Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey were hijacked away from our little ranch in Hye to make their way in the world. Some are destined for awe-inspiring cities like Dallas and Fort Worth. Others will take their place next to their brothers on liquor store shelves in rustic, rural towns like Beaumont, College Station, Longview, Lufkin and Lubbock.

It feels like I just put my kids on a school bus and sent them off on their own for the first time. I can only hope that they will be adopted by a family or individual who loves fine straight bourbon as much as I do. If the bottles find good homes, it is my hope they will be treated like the fine individuals they are. I hope they won’t get blended in with the wrong crowd, such as vodkas, brown vodkas, Cokes, Sprites and cucumber-infused cocktails. I hope they will be enjoyed in moderation.

Fortunately, I am certain they are ready for the world. They are each unique and truly outstanding on their own. These bottles of bourbon can hold their own with any bourbon from any distillery in America.

If you encounter one of these bottles at a liquor store, please consider spending some time with it and getting to know it. You will find the investment worthwhile.

Down On The Farm

It has been an 8 second bull-ride of a summer in Hye. After winning yet ANOTHER well-deserved Blue Ribbon with our parade float in June’s Stonewall Peach Parade and Rodeo, we celebrated with our annual WINNER, WINNER CHICKEN DINNER in the barrel barn.


Then, we shut the entire operation down for maintenance in July. This is something we plan every year to assure our equipment is cared for. It also gives our staff some overdue family time and assures we don’t waste well water or rainwater during the hottest month of the year. When we do this, we hang a sign on the gate that says “Gone Fishin.”

Bourbon Camp


In September, our Old 300 Ambassadors came rolling into Hye for Bourbon Camp. They helped us start bottling the fall 2012 release throughout the day. God bless them. That night, we danced in the rain on the porch of the Barrel Barn while Thomas Michael Riley and Scooter Pearce played acoustic guitar.

Things got a little out of hand this year when we introduced our guests to the Hill Country Truck Bomb. The complex recipe goes a little something like this:

(courtesy Billy Graham, general manager at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin)

  1. Drop a one ounce shot glass of Garrison Brothers into a ¾ full pint glass of Real Ale Oktoberfest.
  2. Down the entire pint glass
  3. Hand car keys to wife or take your horse home.


Redneck Maquiladora

Fancy, Automated Assembly Line

Yes, that's a crockpot

A pretty, bourbon-infused smile

Later in September, we hosted 150 of the finest Texans I have ever met in Hye. Volunteer bottlers from all over Texas, and a few displaced Texans from Louisiana and Oklahoma, descended on Garrison Brothers Distillery to help us bottle the fall release. A few of our Old 300 returned too.

As one would expect from this whiskey-swillin’, skirt chasin’, redneck posse, all matter of transportation was used. People showed up in travel trailers, ambulances, on Harleys and on horseback. Some walked here. My favorite toast was from one of our pretty lady bottlers: “My friends know I’m a drinker and always ask me how I hold my liquor. I always tell them ‘by the ears.’”

It was a three-week-long, quality control-fueled, redneck maquiladora. Somehow, we managed to bottle, case and palletize 700 bottles at the end of each and every day.

Of gods and Texans

I have learned from this experience that if you give a group of Texans a difficult job to do, and a bottle of bourbon to share, the job gets done well and the bourbon goes away. Through the hard work, a sense of family is established, as well as a sense of accomplishment.

It’s often hard for me to distinguish between gods and Texans. There’s something indefinable and special about being Texan. It’s much more than the common pride we all share and it’s bigger than the state itself. We can gather together with a bottle of the good stuff, and within a few hours, we’ll all consider each other friends. Sure we sniff each other out a little but eventually we come around.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful all the volunteers are who take part in this semi-annual love affair with bourbon. It feels like a Robert Earl Keen song-inspired family reunion that grows larger and bawdier every time. Those who have been here know exactly what I mean. We thank you and hope you’ll come again soon.

I also want to apologize to the 700 brave people who offered to cross that line in the sand but did not get in on the battle. We are keeping your names and contact information on a waiting list and promise to work you in soon. We truly appreciate your patience.

The real horses and heroes in this process are the gods who work at Garrison Brothers: Laurel, Donnis, Fred, Stephanie, Jason, JD and Cindy. Though they hoot, holler and tell raucous stories to entertain our guests, behind the scenes they are breaking their backs to be sure every bottle is perfect and to make sure we get home for a few hours’ sleep each night. I am so proud to be associated with these individuals. They are my gods and heroes.

Tragedy in Hye

Bringing it up is a real downer for what’s intended to be a positive newsletter, but I must mention that we lost two of my other heroes this summer. On September 20, my dogs Whiskey and Tango were both run over by a truck near Hye. They both died instantly.

I want to thank everyone for the cookies, flowers, brownies, phone calls, notes and letters you sent to our family. We truly appreciate your support. We are slowly getting through it.

And just in case this is read by the truck driver, I want to make sure he knows that it was not his fault. It was bad luck, tragedy and stupidity on my part.

As Forrest Gump eloquently said, “That’s about all I have to say about that.”

Ambrosia and Craftsmanship

Thinking about the tragedy and the gods who are my staff also got me thinking about more pleasant things such as ambrosia. The Greeks used ambrosia to confer immortality on those who consumed it.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a stretch, but we are in search of ambrosia here at Garrison Brothers. We spare no expense to make it. If we think a custom-built $3,000 bourbon barrel made from wood from a forest in Sparta might yield ambrosia, we’re going to buy that barrel. I believe our bourbon has come closer to ambrosia with every release we have introduced.

Most people may think the idea of actually creating ambrosia is ridiculous. But I have worked alongside this crew for some time now, and I think we can do it.

One of our bottling volunteers presented me with a bottle of our bourbon shortly after the dogs passed. He had taken the time to carve my dog’s initials W and T into the wax along the neck of the bottle and had done a beautiful job. That bottle now rests atop my dogs’ grave — just in case our bourbon is ambrosia, and just in case ambrosia can do what the Greeks claimed.

Vintage Bourbon

The fall 2012 vintage is the sixth release from Garrison Brothers. As most know, we release two vintages a year — one in the fall and one in the spring. Each vintage differs considerably from the previous and we take great pride in assuring each vintage has a different and unique flavor profile.

These profile changes are an intentional result of the grain used in the recipe; the types of new white American oak barrels that are selected for aging; using different filtration methods to remove barrel wood and charcoal; and the age of the barrels that are selected. The Texas climate and agricultural factors, such as the quality of the grain and the rainfall in the forest from which our barrels were harvested, also affect the flavor profile.

The profile of the fall 2012 release that is hitting stores now is far and away our most unusual. It has plenty of what the Japanese refer to as a savory Umami, a rich syrupy finish that coats the palate and warms up your entire body. It has the typical rich, velvety, butterscotch-laden mouth-feel that Garrison Brothers drinkers have come to expect. But this one has something new: a smoky hazelnut and brown sugared-butternut squash taste.

This release is the oldest bourbon the distillery has introduced. The youngest barrels selected were aged in our barns for more than two and a half years. Some of the older barrels were well over three years old.

Though the flavor nuances are subtle, connoisseurs and sophisticated bar owners are taking note. A Fredericksburg, Texas restaurant and bar called The Buffalo Nickel, owned by New England Culinary Institute graduate chef James Welliver, features a Garrison Brothers bourbon menu that offers a small sample of every vintage. An ounce-and-a-half pour of the first release, which we called the Young Gun, will set you back $38. An ounce-and-a-half pour of the latest vintage is $13.

Yeah, it’s an expensive night out, but it’s a great way to learn where we’ve come from and where we are now.

Getting Your Hands on a Bottle

As I understand it, there are only 200 cases of the fall 2011 vintage remaining at Texas liquor stores. Just 400 cases of the spring 2012 release are out there somewhere. And this latest release, the fall 2012, included 1,500 cases. All previous releases have ridden off into the sunset. According to our distributor, liquor stores are selling 100 to 200 cases a month. So, at this rate, we anticipate it will all be gone by the spring or summer of 2013.

Sure, we’ll make more, but it’s not easy to quickly make a three-year-old bourbon. And it shouldn’t be.

Texans drink a ton of bourbon in the winter and they are starting to drink lots of ours. So, if you want a bottle or a case for someone special for Christmas, we encourage you to visit a liquor store and get it before the holidays get underway.

If you don’t see it on the shelf, please ask your local retailer to take a bottle out of their glass case. People keep stealing the stuff, so they keep it under lock and key.

But it’ll be there somewhere. If it’s not, please tell the manager how you feel about that. I’d sure appreciate it. And if they tell you it is being “allocated,” they’re not shooting you straight.

Could the Planets Be In Alignment?

As many of you know, I have used this forum before to bitch about the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Hell, I’m a firm believer in the free enterprise system. It’s no secret that I believe that I should be able to sell you a souvenir bottle directly from my distillery at the end of your tour of Garrison Brothers. If I’m producing a legal product and you are over the legal drinking age, and you are not intoxicated, I believe you should be able to buy as much as you want, at a fair and reasonable price. Further, I believe that the government has no right to tell me – the owner of an agricultural business who happens to make bourbon – how much I can sell, who I can sell it to, where or when I can sell it, or what I can charge for it.

Well – knock on wood – because changes to the code could be a real possibility in the next legislative session.

Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes: The TABC has informed state legislators that it fears future lawsuits from unhappy industry participants, like the recent case of Jester King versus TABC, because the state’s alcohol code is so mismatched and screwed up. Senators Leticia Van De Putte and John Corona have organized a series of workgroup sessions inviting all the parties to the table to discuss what changes to the code can be made that will prevent lawsuits. I attended these sessions. I scoffed at the initial hearings, and frankly was a little rude, but now I believe they may be serious. This could be all hogwash but I am impressed with the seriousness of purpose Senator Van De Putte has brought to the proceedings. She has been “a dog on a bone” and I mean that with complete respect. She also has an outstanding sense of humor and never lets productive discussions become over-heated.

We are now waiting to see how the code will be rewritten and what “permissions” will be allotted to Texas distillers. We will submit our own recommendations. Bill language has not yet been drafted. When it is and a number is assigned, we will then marshal political support from our friends and allies. You’ll certainly hear about it from Garrison Brothers Distillery. Hope you’ll help.

Whiskey Peddlers

Over the next few months, some of us here in Hye will be hitting the road to share our ambrosia with Texans all over this great state. But it’s a really big state. I put 47,000 miles on my truck this year just trying to cover The Coastal Bend, The Rio Grande Valley, The Big Country and The Panhandle. So, I’m enlisting a few Whiskey Peddlers to help me out.

Donnis Todd, Master Distiller

Donnis Todd, Master Distiller

In 2008, I took a week off for some family time. When I returned to Hye, there was a Harley Davidson parked on the front porch of the distillery. I walked inside to find a hulk of a man with a full beard and bitchin’ tattoos covering his arms and shoulders. This was our exchange:

Dan: “Who are you and what are you doing in my distillery?”

Donnis: “I’m Donnis Todd and I want to make bourbon.”

Dan: “Well you can’t do it here. I don’t have any money to pay you.”

Donnis: “Well, I ain’t leaving, so you better put me to work.”

A week later, Donnis was living in a condemned travel trailer, with no AC, heat or running water, about a mile from the distillery. He was literally squatting on someone else’s land. At night, he would lock himself in the stillhouse and study my notes from my Kentucky trips. He would write angry, educated notes in the margins of books of prestigious academics, often arguing with a chemical theory that had been presented. He would even correct my math when we were making an important calculation. And he still does today.

If you have visited Garrison Brothers, you have likely had an opportunity to experience a chemistry, microbiology and engineering lecture from Donnis. I’m here to tell you, he really is that freaking smart.

It is a great honor for me to announce that Donnis Todd is now the master distiller at Garrison Brothers Distillery. In a few years, when you taste some of the experimental bourbon recipes he’s working on now, you’ll better understand why this was an easy decision.

Every bottle of Garrison Brothers is hand-numbered and hand-signed by me, except for this release. One thousand bottles from this release rightfully have Donnis’s signature on them. It was Hye time for that to happen.

Charlie Garrison, Whiskey Peddler

Charlie Garrison, Whiskey Peddler

Blood may be thicker than bourbon. But that really depends how much of the later is running through your veins.

My brother Charlie spent his summer here working with us at Garrison Brothers and learning the business. He has been a breath of fresh air, although he rarely smells like one. He has spent most of the past 15 years with his wonderful family in Arizona running his own restaurants. But the economy out there is slow and the bourbon business back home has its allure. So, I asked him to come home, and just in the nick of time. This fall, he will be wandering around the country where we grew up, Houston, Beaumont, College Station, Galveston, The Woodlands, Katy and Spring, visiting with retailers and thanking them for carrying Garrison Brothers.

He’ll also be pouring samples of our ambrosia for bartenders, mixologists, sommeliers, chefs and customers at many of the Gulf Coast’s better restaurants, bars and hotels. Please stop in and say hello. The two things he does best is buy drinks and tell the same stories, over and over and over again.

Sharing and Enjoying Our Ambrosia

I heard a saying about Garrison Brothers the other day that I really liked: “The first time you by a bottle, it seems outrageously expensive. Then you’ll buy two.”

We want you to try Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. To that end, Donnis, Charlie and I will be canvassing Texas this fall visiting with folks at liquor stores, bars and restaurants.

If you happen to be buying a bottle as a gift for someone special, please come see us so we can write a personal note on the back of the bottle. The Tasting and Bottle Signing schedule is posted on our website and is also available here. Please come visit with us.

And remember, if you can’t find Garrison Brothers at a store near your home, you can always come share bourbon with us in Hye. We offer tours and tastings Wednesday through Sunday at 10, noon, 2 and 4. You can smell and taste the corn cooking; walk through the fermentation rooms; nose and taste the “White Dog”; sample a little bourbon from one of our releases; and ask all the questions you want. There’s no need to call ahead unless you’ve got a large group or want to schedule a special event; we can always make room for a few more. Stephanie will make you feel right at home.

If you really want to get doused in Garrison Brothers, consider joining The Old 300. If you do, you’ll know more about fine bourbon whiskey than anyone in Texas and you’ll have a great time learning.

Finally, you don’t have to come all the way to Hye to pick up some Garrison Brothers gear. We’ve launched Garrison Brothers’ Dry Goods Store. There you’ll find t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and cool bourbon shit.

Vaya con Dios. Have a great fall.

Kind regards,



Dan Garrison
Proprietor and Distiller

posted by Dan Garrison in Fall 2012 Newsletter and have Comments (28)