By Debbie Shocair
As a gal who hails straight outta Texas, these Garrison Brothers have gone and made me proud. As it happened, completely randomly and in California no less, I ran into Charlie Garrison only days after having been told of Garrison Brothers and about Charlie himself. It was amusing, for as he introduced himself to me I gushed, “I know you! Well, I don’t know you…but I know you! You just started following me on Facebook and I was told you make really good whiskey!”
Now Charlie gushed. “And I know who you are, too!”
It’s fun when that happens.
We talked about whiskey trends for a few minutes and when I said I would love to taste and review his whiskey, Charlie went out to his car to retrieve something. It was a bottle of Garrison Brothers Straight Texas Bourbon. He smiled. I smiled. We all smiled.
I know Southern charm done Texas style, and Charlie Garrison has it, and, moreover, he is proud of his namesake whiskey. Texas proud. In the beautiful Hill Country in a town called Hye, they (Charlie and brother Dan) use organic Texas corn, organic winter wheat they grown on their own ranch, and barley from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. They also use rainwater they collect and purify with a special ultraviolet light purification system. They are, in fact, an amazingly green company.
What I found very interesting, indeed, is that they do not use the more usual sour mash process, preferring to cook up their own sweet mash fresh for each batch. After maturing three years, on average, in slow-growth Northern American oak (from sustainable forests) Garrison Brothers proudly label the vintage year on each bottling.
Yes. I was prepared to like this whiskey. But, I’m never biased. Never. Not when it comes to whiskey, and if you ever share a dram with me, you will see for yourself I won’t say it if it isn’t true.
On the nose this Texas Straight Bourbon was woodsy, with strong notes of raisin, apricot, toasted grain, and dark caramel – almost burnt sugar, but just shy of it.
Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water caused some hidden notes of corn to come through, along with hay and some light grassiness, while the raisin aromas morphed into something much more like fruit cake. The mouthfeel, even for a 94° spirit, was modest and polite, tingling both the tip of the tongue and the back of the palate.
Then there was the finish. I sort of surprised myself by letting out an audible “Mmmmm.” It wasn’t a particularly long finish, but a very interesting medium-ish one that began pleasantly woody and spicy, followed by toasted popcorn kernels. Yep. That was a new one for me and I reached to identify it, but definitely. Definitely toasted popcorn kernels. Then on to cinnamon and creamy vanilla as it faded.
It’s available throughout Texas, and though the Garrison Brothers are working hard at expanding their distribution, you may have to hunt for this one a bit. If your local Happy Juice store doesn’t yet carry it, you can certainly purchase it directly from GB on their website (where the law allows).
And, you should. Get some, I mean. I toyed with giving them an “A,” and I look forward to tasting and reviewing their next vintage.
Around $70 where you can find it.