Updated: Thursday, 25 Mar 2010, 2:58 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 22 Mar 2010, 8:44 PM CDT
HYE, Texas (KXAN) - Move over wine, bourbon is now being handmade in the Hill Country.
Dan Garrison, proprietor of the distillery and his assistants are hard at work making Texas' first legal bourbon.
"It's authentic, it's the real deal, we do it all by hand, every single bottle that we produce, we've made ourselves and it's a lot of work," explained Garrison while sitting in his bourbon barrel barn.
Garrison got into the bourbon business in 2007, leaving behind a career in technology marketing to become a self-taught bourbon manufacturer.
"I wanted to produce something that I could touch and feel and taste so bourbon was the perfect solution," Garrison said.
Garrison read books, turned to the internet and even traveled to Kentucky to get schooled in the bourbon business.
"I went to Kentucky and I made a lot of friends. I got to meet some of the legends of this business, guys like Elmer T. Lee," Garrison reminisced.
When he returned, he turned a portion of his working Texas Hill Country cattle ranch into a craft distillery with staff working 24 hours a day, six days a week.
"We cook it we ferment it, we distill it, we barrel it, we do it from corn to cork," Garrison explained.
Garrison uses organic corned harvested from the Texas panhandle to make mash--something he described as being a "sweet oatmeal.'
He is even using the environment to his advantage by collecting and filtering rainwater from the distillery's rooftop to make his 100 to 150 proof distilled product.
"Rain water has no flouride, has no chlorine and the last thing we want is city purified water affecting the flavor and taste of our bourbon," Garrison said.
Garrison may make manufacturing three barrels of distilled bourbon a day look easy, but there have been hiccups along the way.
Namely, when it came to cooking temperatures and adding in ingredients like yeast and barley.
"If you do it wrong you are going to make cornbread, ours is very good cornbread, but we made a lot of cornbread for very long time," Garrison recalled.
It took workers five months to finally concoct their first batch of bourbon.
2,000 bottles of Garisson's bourbon hit liquor store shelves in the Hill Country in early March and retailed for about $50 a bottle.
His bourbon sold out in less than 72 hours.
"It disappeared," Garrison said while laughing. "We thought we'd provided enough to the stores that it would be on their shelves for months but it all sold. In fact, one of the retailers in Blanco was telling me that they actually had people flying in from Las Vegas and Atlanta and St. Louis to come pick up their bottles.
Garrison said the next batch of bourbon won't come out until Fall because that's when most of the 750 barrels of bourbon housed in his barrel barn will all have aged for two years.
He hopes that once the next batch is ready he can expand sales across the state.