Distiller releases first Texas bourbon

If you want to call your bubbly champagne, it better be made in the Champagne region of France.

If you want to call your aperitif port, it better be made in Portugal.

If you want to call your single malt Scotch, it had better be made in Scotland.

Them's the rules under international agreements, although there unfortunately are cases here and there of clear violations.

But, If you want to call your corn-based whiskey bourbon and you're making it in, say, New York or Texas instead of its home state of Kentucky, feel free to do so.

The federal rules for calling a whiskey bourbon is that it must contain at least 51% corn in the mash (most distillers use 70-85%), be aged in charred, new American white oak barrels for at least two years, and be produced at a maximum 160 proof and stored at not more than 125 proof.

Bourbon, first developed in Kentucky about 1789 by the Rev. Elijah Craig, has seen a growth spurt in recent decades and new versions of it are popping up around the country.

The newest comes from Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, TX, in the Hill Country. It is a limited bottling of 1,000 that is the state's first legal bourbon. At least for now, it is being sold only in Hill Country liquor stores for about a suggested $49 for the 375ml bottle.

Dan Garrison says he hopes to move into the Dallas market by fall when the distillery will have at least 120 barrels at two-year maturity.

Garrison's mash uses organic yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle, organic winter wheat and two-row barley from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. When the weather permits, the Garrisons grow their wheat on their ranch. Their water is "fresh Hill Country rainwater that we harvest and purify ourselves."

Why the limited pre-release? "The first 500 bottles are for the Blanco and Gillespie County electricians, plumbers, masons and construction workers who have helped us build the distillery,” Garrison said. “They deserve the first taste. We’ll give these away as gifts."

The bourbon was distilled at a proof ranging from 100 to 150. "The pre-release is like a rebellious kid with an attitude,” Garrison said. “It came off the still hot and you can taste it. Deep down inside, though, it’s a good bourbon, with a sweet nose and a warm, lingering finish."

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