By Father John Rayls
Garrison Brothers Distillery is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. That puts it north of San Antonio, east of Luckenbach (yes…that Luckenbach) west of Austin near Johnson City (as in Lyndon B Johnson). It is a small craft distillery in the truest sense of the term. Almost everything is done by hand even using mostly available local resources. This includes Panhandle White Corn, Soft Red Winter Wheat (they grow themselves) and Barley from the Northwest. They grind their own grain, cook their sweet mash and then barrel and bottle it. The Garrison Brothers Texas Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel is created from this commitment to the ideals of genuine love of their craft. They believe they are pursuing the “Holy Grail of artisan craftsmanship”. It is distilled under the simple rules of whiskey labeled as Straight Bourbon and it’s located in Texas. It’s bottled at 94 proof and is 3 years old. Of course, ownership tries to quickly deflect any question of age by stating: “Our bourbon cycles in and out of the wood year-round. Aging bourbon whiskey for months in Texas’ cyclical climate can yield a whiskey that tastes like it has been aged for decades in a cooler climate.” As a small craft distillery, innovation and change can happen very quickly and quirkiness and uniqueness can become its calling card. This single barrel bourbon brings tradition with it but with its own presence. Garrison Brothers Distillery claims to be the first and oldest legal distillery in Texas.
The bottle is beautiful with a silver/gray/black Lone Star on the front of it and an additional one on the cap. It appears to be done in the same wax in which it is dipped (similar to Maker’s). The owners made their wax sealing different enough to get around Maker’s process ownership. The bourbon has a beautiful dark copper coloring (“like the amber-Crimson tint of a Texas sunset”) that really sets off the bottle with the wax. It looks even better in the glass. My bias is that this is the appearance I want all my bourbons to possess. It is a medium viscosity bourbon with long legs.
The nose is a little more pronounced and delivers butterscotch, vanilla, oak and some light nutmeg. It’s a very enjoyable aroma which adds greatly to the enjoyment. Don’t rush this part of the whisky experience. It takes a little patience and a little self control combined to help focus your attention. The taste is almost entirely from mid-mouth to the back. The long finish brings the taste back to the middle of the mouth before settling down. The finish brings multiple waves of flavor, but in a very gentle way. This is a unique and very enjoyable bourbon. The sweet caramel, vanilla and oak help create a warm and inviting environment. A sweet oak flavor seems to primarily drive this tasting. Garrison Brothers Single Barrel is a very enjoyable experience.
The pricing on this particular bourbon is, as you would expect, a bit unique. You may buy it in the barrel from 5300.00 to 8900.00 depending on the number of expected bottles. Originally, the bottles were only available in the distillery retail store at 109.99. However, they are now available from limited local liquor shops for about the same price. This is a very popular whiskey and is outselling the flagship bourbon for Garrison Brothers by about 2 to 1. As a result, good luck getting your sweaty little hands on a bottle. However if you can, it will be easy to see why this bourbon is so popular.