6/07/2013 03:33:00 PM

Cocktail Hour: Bourbon From Garrison Brothers Distillery

Bourbon is the new vodka, gin and tequila all put together. What does that mean? The brown stuff is showing up at the trendiest bars in cocktails and served straight more than ever in the past, and there are even places in Austin like TenOak that specialize in it. Plus a slew of small-batch distilleries are creating the spirit from scratch.

Take Garrison Brothers Distillery, which produces small-batch bourbons in the Texas Hill Country (Hye, Texas, to be exact). The artisanal maker says they “consider making bourbon the Holy Grail of artisan distilling.” Garrison Brothers works with organic farms to find organic corn and ages the liquor in white American oak barrels (wine wood, not whiskey wood). The distillery produces only a few hundred barrels each year.

The spirits themselves are darker than industrial bourbons. The most popular is the Young Gun, released in 2010, which on first sniff has a “surprisingly complex nose of gun smoke, caramel, dried cherries, figs, and apricots” and “a well-rounded finish that's crisp, with a little bit of sizzle.” Also try the Flagship and Cowboy.

Find Garrison Brothers’ bourbons at most liquor stores in Austin. Or for a real treat, head to Hye for a “sit and sip” tour, on Wednesdays through Sundays at 10 AM, noon, 2 PM and 4 PM for $10 ($20 on Saturday).

Also taste the spirit at several upcoming events. For example, on June 13, the Fredericksburg Herb Farm is hosting a bourbon-pairing dinner with the distillery. Think Wagyu beef carpaccio with heirloom tomatoes, melon gazpacho with lump crab and fried banana croquettes with salted caramel ice cream and honey-bourbon syrup, plus plenty of bourbon. And on June 22, after Stonewall’s annual parade, head to the distillery for a bourbon and fried chicken picnic ($20, only 250 tickets available).


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