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Distilling, like brewing and winemaking, is a fairly young industry in Texas. Prohibition quashed the majority of manufacturers early in the 20th century.
The first Texas distillery of the modern era was Fifth Generation Inc. in Austin, creator of Tito’s Vodka, founded in 1995. Even when some of the early local distilleries, such as Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. in Fort Worth and Western Son Distillery in Pilot Point, fired up stills in 2011, they were ahead of the curve, though not by much.
Shortly thereafter, the thirst for locally made spirits exploded, driven primarily by a renewed interest in whiskey from young drinkers.
Between 2010 and 2016, sales of U.S. bourbon and Tennessee whiskey increased 41 percent to 21.7 million cases, according to the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council. Couple that with the amount of American bourbon and whiskey exported around the world and you’re drinking up a $3.3 billion industry - a bona fide boom, as some have called it.
It's a good time to be a spirits drinker in North Texas. With more than 10 local distilleries (and several more on the way), residents now have their pick of whiskey, gin, rum, vodka and more made here in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Here are five distilleries where you visit, tour and sample the local flavor
Today, there are at least 13 distilleries open in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, and several more are in development. If you haven't heard of them, it's not because their products are subpar.
In 2013, Firestone and Robertson's flagship TX whiskey was named "Best American Craft Whiskey" at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and earned a Double Gold honor. In 2016, both Iron Root Republic Distilling in Denison and Witherspoon Distillery in Lewisville snagged silver medals at the New York International Spirits Competition. Three vodkas from Dallas' Duckworthy Distillery, including a truffle-flavored one, were deemed "exceptional" by the Beverage Testing Institute last year. And that's just to name a few local accolades.
As of August 2016, there were 1,315 active craft distillers in the U.S., according to a joint study released last year by the American Craft Spirits Association and the International Wine and Spirits Research. According to the report, those distillers account for approximately 12 percent of cases of spirits sold each year.
As it happens, more than 70 of those establishments are located in Texas — and several are concentrated in and around the rapidly growing Austin area. The craft liquor boom is partially an exponent of Texas' strong reputation for cultivating small business and entrepreneurship.
Black-eyed peas deliver prosperity in the new year — but they also can bring, as one Texas farmer found out, a boozy good time. Now, he’s distilling with them to make vodka at BlackEyed Distilling in Fort Worth, which recently hosted a grand opening celebration.
Two Texas Distillers made the distinguished 2017 Whisky Magazine’s list of best Whisky. IronRoot Distillery won America’s Best corn whisky. Balcones Distillery and IronRoot Distillery won gold for Non Kentucky Bourbon.
Spirit of Texas Independent Distillery, 1715 Dalshank St., Ste. A, Pflugerville, expanded operations to include a tasting bar. The company distills Pecan Street Rum and Straight Silver Rum infused with Texas pecans.
In 2012, the feisty single malt at Balcones Distilling in Texas won “Best in Glass” in a U.K. whisky competition, going head to head against entries from such homegrown stalwarts as Glenmorangie and Johnnie Walker.
TDSA welcomes our newest Principal member Witherspoon Distillery in Lewisville, Texas. Founded in 2011, Witherspoon Distillery produces premium handcrafted spirits that stay true to traditional distilling. From grain to bottle, they control every step of the process. Beginning with the sourcing of US made raw materials, to on-site fermentation, and finally distilling, aging, bottling and packaging, we make sure that every drop of our spirits are of the highest quality.