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Hops & Vine

Texas-Born Bourbon The “Best American Craft Whiskey” calls Fort Worth “home” Article Douglas Matus | Photography Kat Swift A Dream Distilled


ocally-produced libations have become immensely popular among discerning drinkers, and many craft brewers and distillers have set new standards of quality for their products. The Fort Worth-area can boast a rich selection of craft beer brewers, including Martin House, Rahr & Sons and Revolver. Until recently, however, Fort Worth had no distiller to call its own. Enter Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, who five years ago began the conversion of a pre-Prohibition Southside warehouse into one of the premier distillery facilities in the state of Texas. Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. began to offer Texas its signature blended whiskey, back in June 2012. Soon the distillery will offer another premier product, a craft bourbon, hundreds of barrels of which currently sit stacked in the warehouse, aging to perfection. 16 West FW Lifestyle | July 2014

Firestone and Robertson began their project with a shared passion for whiskey and recognition of an entrepreneurial opportunity. Inspired by the success of Austin-based Tito’s Vodka, and the craftsmanship of Maker’s Mark in Kentucky, the pair set out to create a homegrown Texas bourbon. “We both appreciated the romance of making whiskey,” says Firestone. “As business people, we studied the market and saw an opportunity. Texas is the second largest population of whiskey consumers in the country.” Both Firestone and Robertson had great confidence in the possibility of success. The pair started their business in a space larger than most established craft distilleries, and they have quadrupled their number of employees in just two years. “Belief in success made us start big,” continues Firestone. “We’ve been blessed with demand.” Today, every aspect of Firestone & Robertson’s production occurs on

site, from the work of fermenting, distilling and aging the bourbon, to production of the blend, bottling and shipping. The Taste of Texas

In order to create a true Texas product, Firestone & Robertson settled on handson, artisanal approach. Every aspect of their production, from the provenance of the wheat and barley to the design of the bottle, reflects care and thoughtfulness. For their bourbon, they use Texas corn grown in the Panhandle, and red wheat from North Texas. They have no temperature control for their barrel storage, as the Texas climate contributes to the character of their bourbon. Firestone explains this process. “The wood lives and breathes,” he says. “Hot weather makes it expand and draw whiskey into the wood. In cold weather, it contracts and pushes the whiskey out. Texas’ long summers and chaotic winters cause the barrels to work the whiskey in and out, and we let Mother Nature do her work.”

WestFW Lifestyle July 2014