Top Ten Most Outstanding Texas-Owned Liquors

Categories: Top 10

Photos by John Kiely
Tito's was the first competitive distiller in Texas.

Texas has a long-standing good reputation as a whiskey- and tequila-drinking state, but only in this century have Texans begun to make respectable liquor. At least ten Texas-owned spirits producers are now able to put out bottles of booze that compete with the best liquors on the market.

Just to make sure it's not Texas pride talking, I enlisted the help of an objective observer: Neal MacDonald of, an Illinois-based website that collects international spirit competition awards and professional reviews and puts them together to make a remarkably good rating system. The results are in no particular order.

10. Tito's Handmade Vodka

Tito Beveridge's vodka is by far the greatest success of any of the Texas spirits, says MacDonald, even though Tito's hasn't entered any spirits competitions since 2003.

The Most Awarded Tequila is organic.

I spotted only two bottles of vodka in Goro & Gun's spirits library, and asked Matthew "Tulu" Whiteside why there weren't more. He said that in previous bars he's tended, customers would ask for Absolut, and Tito's second. Now they ask for Tito's, with Ketel One for the backup.

Absolut Citron is the best vodka for a Cosmopolitan, but if you have only two bottles of regular vodka in your bar program or home, then definitely, Tito's and Ketel One.

9. Dulce Vida Añejo Tequila

Produced by Richard Sorensen of Austin, this organic tequila already has the trademark "The Most Awarded Tequila". More of the top awards go to the añejo tequila, which Neal MacDonald describes as a "whiskey drinker's tequila". In fact, Dulce Vida has paired with Garrison Brothers whiskey to produce a Lone Star edition of its añejo tequila, although it's at a price that's less competitive than the regular añejo.

There's no mistaking where this whiskey is from.

8. Firestone and Robertson TX Blended Whiskey

Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson founded their namesake distilling company in Fort Worth in 2010, nailed down a Double Gold in 2013, and were named Best American Craft Whiskey at the San Franscisco World Spirits Competiton, beating out 44 competitors.

Firestone and Robertson intended to compete with blended Scotch and other international whiskeys, and they have succeeded.

This story continues on the next page.

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This list would be much longer than 10 and there would be even better liquors if Texas (and the Federal government) would allow hobby distilling at home, as it does for homebrewing and wine making. Many microbrews got their start as homebrewers and now they get to pay taxes! There are a LOT of myths out there about running a still, first and foremost that you'll go blind. Myth. It'll blow up and destroy your whole neighborhood. Myth.

Read more at and join the Yahoo groups New_Distillers and Distillers to learn more about the grassroots legalization campaign.


No love for Yellow Rose?  I'm not a big whiskey guy, but I enjoy their locally made product.  Of those TX branded Tequila, Izkali is the only one I ever consider.  


Dulce Vida is the first tequila that I've ever really enjoyed. I've only had the silver variety, but I love how amped it is. It's not a "smooth" tequila but it's incredibly good to drink straight up. I definitely need to try the anejo. I like that warmth. I don't know if the experts think this way or not, but smoothness is not usually at the top of my list of priorities in the liquor I drink. As long as it has some character and depth I don't mind a little fire in the throat. Not too much, but just enough.

erichenao topcommenter

Y'all need some gin on there.

Bone Spirits as mentioned by Wade makes the Moody June.

Genius Gin is making a standard as well as Navy strength version.

Roxor and Treaty Oak are two others. I'm as sure as Wade as to whether they are grain to glass…

Wade Woodard
Wade Woodard

The title of article is Texas owned.  If you are looking for truly made (grain to glass) in Texas, then only one product on the list qualifies as grain to glass - Balcones.  The others all have sourced products made out of state.  Obviously the Tequilas on the list have to made in Mexico, but their is a local company that makes an Agave spirit here locally - Railean.  

The picture from Tony K's of Texas whiskey shows what is wrong with "Texas Whiskies".  The majority of those whiskies they only thing Texas about them is it was put it in bottle in this state.  The whiskies were made in Kentucky or Indiana purchased in bulk then bottled here.  There is nothing wrong with being an independent bottler, which is basically what many of these brands are.  Several other well known American Whiskies are really just independent bottlers that buy sourced whisky including Pappy Van Winkle, Michters, Black Maple Hill, and Willett.  The problem is in the deceit in creating a label and back story on their website with intent to confuse consumers to make them think it was distilled in Texas.

We do have some Texas craft distillers that do it right and control fermentation, distillation, aging, and bottling all in Texas for every one of their products.  This includes Railean, Balcones, Garrison Brothers, Bone Spirits (Fitch's Goat).  Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon also fits this criteria (but other products start as sourced).


Neither Railean nor Treaty Oak can match Flor de Cana or El Dorado, but for the love of God choose them over Bacardi Light.


Yellow Rose Rye and Outlaw Bourbon are both award-winning, but the price is slightly high compared to the Kentucky competitors. However, the Outlaw is unique enough to become a big hit.


@erichenaoHello everyone, I am Mike G the owner of Austin's Genius Gin. I want to say 2 things. 1, we are entirely "grain to glass", never purchasing bulk alcohol. 2, if anyone is interested in trying Genius and wants to chat more about it, please email me at mike AT This is a great list and I hope we can be included in future releases. Thank you. Sincerely, M


@Wade Woodard

Thanks for the info; liquor is an interesting business. And most of it, like parfum and fashion, is marketing.


Indeed I was careful to title it Texas-owned, and outstanding, in this case, means "Could you consider buying this spirit--at the local price point--over a competing national brand in the category?"

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