If you are a fan of small batch bourbon, whiskey, gin and vodka then you should be in high spirits. Acre Distillery, Black Eyed Distilling, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, and Trinity River Distillery are producing superlative varietals of liquor. And all are locally-owned businesses giving Fort Worth a distinctive niche in the craft spirits world.
BLK EYE VODKA
I recently visited Black Eyed Distilling Company to see what the buzz over this new vodka was about. The distillery and taproom cohabit a fire station that overlooks Main Street in the Near Southside. I was greeted by a jolly Todd Gregory, who co-owns the new business along with Scott Billings. Standing on the building’s ground floor, we were surrounded by large metal fermentors and copper columns that reached toward the ceiling like large golden flutes.
“The key to our distillery is we build our own mash then ferment,” he said. “We’re one of the few grain-to-glass vodka distilleries in Texas.”
“The idea is that by producing the alcohol from their own fermentation, then distilling and reconstituting it with purified water, Billings, Gregory and their team maintain a high level of quality control over the product.”
And then there’s that ineffable magic that happens when black-eyed peas are used. The peas and corn used to make the vodka are grown then milled in Texas, he added. The peas create a “unique flavor,” Gregory said, adding that consumers say the vodka has a live nose (nutty, vanilla, sake), silky mouthfeel and smooth profile.
As we chatted in the upstairs bar, Gregory poured me a sample. On the rocks, of course. After previous misadventures with cheap vodka, I wasn’t expecting much. I found myself savoring the vodka, which was mild and had a sweetness to its aroma. I’ll definitely be back for their distillery tours.
Since opening a year-and-a-half ago, Acre Distillery has set a high standard for what locally-made craft liquor can offer. Recognized as “one of the top 9 craft distillery tasting rooms” in the United States by Vinepair.com, Acre Distillery is the latest venture of Tony Formby. The Canadian native became a part of Fort Worth lore when he invested in Rahr & Sons Brewing Company in 2006 and helped the craft beer brewery expand into the popular regional brewery it is today. The Rahr connection doesn’t end there. JB Flowers, former award-winning brewer at Rahr, is overseeing the distilling operations.
With its downtown location in what was once the rough and tumble Hell’s Half Acre, Acre Distillery is one of my favorite spots to meet friends for a cocktail and dinner. The warm environs makes generous use of handcrafted and restored wood. The full-service bar always has something to perk me up, and I’m a longtime fan of the chorizo flatbread pizza. Distillery tours offer tastings of six spirits, a discussion on the distilling process, and a history lesson on Hell’s Half Acre.
FIRESTONE AND ROBERTSON DISTILLING COMPANY
Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company made history when they produced Fort Worth’s first straight bourbon. The Near Southside-based distillery was already famous for its TX Whiskey. Both prized products are sold at specialty shops and liquor stores across the Lone Star State. Local bars have caught on to the crazy, including The Whiskey Garden, which makes the TX Whiskey Smash with TX blended whiskey, fresh mint, and lemon juice. The distillery is open for tours on select Saturdays.
The owners are working on a new event space and distillery that should be open this fall. The Vickery location will stay open, but the new locale will offer fans more tour and private event options.