Seven Texas whiskeys that will keep you merry this holiday season

Updated Dec 01, 2015

It’s tough to define Texas whiskey.

We’re proud of our state and the things produced here, which means we should have some criteria in hand when identifying a beverage as beloved as whiskey by the place where it originates. But that’s where it gets tricky.

Distillers here aren’t limited to distilling a certain type of fermented grain — corn, barley, rye and wheat are all in use — and even the barrels the whiskey is aged in can vary. Simply put, the distillers don’t have the long, storied legacies of whiskey strongholds like Kentucky and Scotland to follow, so they’re taking their spirits in playful knows-no-bounds directions. This creativity is one hallmark of our whiskey.

Another defining marker is how it gets into the bottle. Among the whiskey producers in Texas, as with elsewhere, are those who don’t make their own spirit, instead choosing to bottle one already mass-produced from another state.

“The term ‘whiskey’ is such a broad category that it could mean nearly anything, especially in Texas where people are doing so many different kinds of whiskey,” Dan Garrison, owner of bourbon-focused Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, says.

But for people like Garrison and Winston Edwards of Balcones Distilling, making these distinctions is important. Garrison Brothers produces some of the most sought-after hooch in the state, and Garrison sells it by pointing out that it’s “100 percent authentic. Don’t believe it? Come see us.” Edwards, for his part, has a more specific definition of Texas whiskey: It’s “something you make from start to finish in Texas,” he says.

Producing whiskey authentically — “from grain to glass,” as many distillers put it — seems to be a good benchmark recognized by many in the industry, so here are several from this region that could fit the bill and also squeeze into your stocking: