Top Ten Most Outstanding Texas-Owned Liquors
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 Proof66.com, 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.
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