Think distilleries don’t exist in the Texas Hill Country where wine reigns? Think again. Hard spirit makers operate throughout the state and proliferate in the Hill Country. If you love sampling the finer vodkas, whiskeys, and more, you need to make these distilleries a part of your next Hill Country ramble.
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To celebrate Independence Day and summer, American consumers’ drink options continue to abound. According to New York-based Nielsen’s consumer insight titled “A Flavorful Fourth of July,” broadly appealing flavor profiles are dominating the beverage alcohol market.
Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) and coolers, which already are worth more than $2.5 billion annually, have seen their annual dollar sales increase 4.9 percent for the 52 weeks ending April 22, the market research firm reports.
Master Distiller Donnis Todd was the first to sign the 10,000th bourbon barrel at Garrison Brothers Distillery on Saturday during the 10,000th Barrel Celebration held in conjunction with the annual Winner Winner Chicken Dinner event hosted by the distillery at Hye
Balcones Distilling moved into a brand-new modern whisky distillery in Waco, Texas in 2016, leaving behind its home in an old welding shop under the 17th Street Bridge a few blocks away. Head Distiller Jared Himstedt helped build the original distillery, and took us back for a tour of the largely hand-built distillery that helped Balcones make its name.
There are several things in the bill but by far, the biggest single item for craft distillers is the reduction in the Federal Excise Tax (FET) rate. The bill is asking for a reduction from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons of spirits. This would provide parity with craft brewers and small vintners, who have enjoyed a reduced FET based on their smaller size for many years.
Meanwhile, distillers of any size, whether conglomerates producing oceans of Jim Beam and Smirnoff, or boutique start-ups crafting artisanal spirits for local sales, pay $13.50 per proof gallon.
These differences translate into a craft distiller paying six times as much in federal excise tax as a craft brewer and 17 times as much as a boutique vintner for the same amount of beverage. To balance things, the ACSA and its members want to reduce the federal excise tax to $2.70 per taxable gallon for the first 100,000 gallons produced.
“It’ll be an exciting opportunity for Texans and for students from all over the United States to come here to Denison, Texas to learn about distillation science,” Professor Andrew Snyder, director of Grayson College Viticulture and Enology, told KTen.
“Texas corn, Texas wheat, Texas water, Texas aging climate, and our proprietary Texas yeast strain,” says co-founder Leonard Firestone.
All bourbon shares the same basic recipe, though each distiller has its own distilling and barreling processes. TX Straight Bourbon is made with #2 yellow-dent Texas corn, Texas soft-red winter wheat, 6-row distillers malt, pure Texas water, and the yeast that makes one whiskey unique from another.