Talk about getting some rockin’ Career Day props.
There you are in the fourth grade, and you’ve dozed through “My Dad the Investment
Banker” and “My Dad the Systems Analyst.” Finally, your turn arrives.
“What does your dad do, young man?”
“He makes vodka.”
“And where did you spend your summer vacation?”
“At a wholesalers’ convention in Vegas!”
Some kids in Austin find themselves in that enviable position because their dads, in fact, do make vodka … and gin … and rum … and whiskey … and tequila.
In fact, in the past few years, a booming mini-industry of spirit-making has sprung up in the Austin area. Local entrepreneurs are putting a Lone Star imprint on classic liquors riding the trendy ‘locovore’ movement and putting a Texas-pride spin on a host of our best-fermented friends.
Turns out, being a modern-day rumrunner is easier than you might think. “When I started looking into it,” said Bert “Tito” Beveridge, whose award-winning Tito’s Vodka jump-started the local distillery industry, “the state code didn’t say anything about distilled spirits, but it didn’t say you couldn’t do it.” Basically, what’s called for is the correct permits from the state and the feds, a place to cook and a certain devil-may-care temperament.
Forget monks distilling Benedictine in centuries-old abbeys or genteel bourbon dynasties set in rolling, bluegrass countryside. The guys making booze in Austin set up shop in industrial parks and warehouses. They sip and smell and tweak and refine and fiddle until they are convinced that their product can measure-up (if not surpass) the standard bearers of the industry. Then they go out to convince the world, one bottle at a time, that, yes, Texas, by-Gawd, can turn out some world-class spirits.
However, this is not meant as a definitive list. Austin spirits include Dripping Springs Vodka, Paula’s Texas Spirits and newcomers Temptryst Rum and Texas Gin, not to mention whiskey distillers in nearby Hye and Waco. This is a selection of Austin men determined to put Texas spirits on the map.