By Elizabeth Emmons
Banner Distilling Company was founded in 2012 by two friends and co-workers, Logan Simpson and Anthony Jimenez. The distillery sits on 12 acres of land located in Manor, Texas, which is in East Austin. Both men are Texas natives, both have an engineering background, and both share a love of beer and spirits. Logan holds a PhD in Chemistry, and Jimenez has a family history of bootlegging beer and whiskey during Prohibition.
With the ambition to be recognized as a top distillery, in true bootstrapping Texas style, the men put their know-how, resourcefulness and drive to work in creating Banner Distilling. They worked on a tight budget of $45,000, and were able to put together a pot still for just $300, using parts sourced from an Austin plumbing supply company and used beer keg from Craigslist. As is a trend with many newer distilleries, they chose a name for their first (reflux) still: “Beaker.” As whiskey machinery often is, Beaker was “born” in Tony’s garage and produced their pilot small-batch whiskey.
The name Banner harkens back to a pre-Prohibition distillery, Banner Distilling Co., which was in operation for 21 years in Cincinnati, Ohio until 1913. Tony and Logan liked this name because of its “implied commitment to excellence and patriotic connotation.” They also named their two current stills (Beaker’s successors) the Twin Sisters, a reference to two canons donated to Texas by the Ohioans who aided Texas in winning the revolution against Mexico in 1836. Banner vows to “forever be gritty, independent and rebellious” as an homage to the history of its home state.
Banner produces two spirits, Banner Natural Vodka, an organic vodka which was its first spirit, and Banner Wheat Whiskey, a non-age statement whiskey. So far, Banner Wheat Whiskey has gone through six batches during the course of 2015, made in stainless and copper stills, with between 140-150 bottles per batch. My sample was 92 proof (46% abv).
In the glass, Banner is a lighter burnt orange whiskey. The nose is subtle and smells of dried fruits, light caramel apple, a touch of marzipan and light oak.
The mouthfeel is light, warm and buttery and very smooth. This whiskey is easy drinking and would definitely serve as a great one in cocktails as well. The initial taste is slightly peppery, with a tininess creeping up in the middle. It is also slightly bitter with hits of almond skins and hoppy beer. The end is quite dry and that steadily makes itself apparent.
Overall, this is a nice whiskey, (especially for a non-age statement) because it is nicely balanced and an easy drinkable whiskey. There is also something to be said for two entrepreneurial whiskey lovers who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and succeeded in building a local and liked distillery.
$35 for 375ml