- DISTILLER: Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company
- MASH BILL: #2 Yellow Dent Texas Corn | Texas Winter Wheat | 6-Row Distiller’s Malt | Yeast made from Texas pecan they call the “Brazos” strain. Percentages are not disclosed.
- AGE: Undisclosed, but since it is labeled Straight that makes it at least two years old, and since there is no age listed it means it must be at least four.
- YEAR: 2017
- PROOF: 90 (45% ABV)
- MSRP: $49.99
- BUY ONLINE: Here’s a list of where you can find TX Straight Bourbon
NOSE: Cherries | Wheat | Light Oak
TASTE: Dry Wood | Spice | Corn
FINISH: The finish on this whiskey is very long, the wood and spice hang on and continue to build long after I’ve swallowed, getting warmer and warmer. It took nearly a minute for it to calm down. To be clear, this isn’t burn, this is spice and wood flavors. I’m not used to low-proof bourbon that continue to build like a cask strength bourbon.
SHARE WITH: Friends who like to Drink Curious and enjoy the big Wide World of Whiskey, or Proud Texans who love everything from Texas.
WORTH THE PRICE: There are a lot of incredible choices out there for $49.99. I realize this is a craft whiskey and that $49.99 is a sweet spot a lot of distillers and marketers suggest for retail. However, I find that pricey for what is in the bottle.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar, and then you’ll have to determine on your own if this is a profile you enjoy. Sure, I realize that’s a cop-out. This isn’t a bad bourbon at all; it just isn’t stellar.
OVERALL: The bottle says it has flavors of dark fruits, caramel, and vanilla. I picked up cherry, and that’s a dark fruit. I tried and tried to pick up caramel or vanilla, and it just isn’t there. I’ve been sipping on this bourbon for nearly a month, giving it plenty of time to oxidize and for other flavors to make themselves known. If the vanilla and caramel are there, they’re just overwhelmed by the oak and spice.
When I cleansed my palate with dark chocolate, and then took a sip, the chocolate muted the wood enough for me to start to pick up vanillas. But not everyone carries around dark chocolate when sipping whiskey.
Finally, the bottle design is simply gorgeous. They’ve outdone themselves, all the way down to the snakeskin covered cork. I know packaging means a lot to some folks, and at a lot of whiskey competitions, the packaging is a judged and awarded category.
Our straight bourbon is made with #2 yellow dent Texas corn, Texas soft red winter wheat, 6-row distillers malt, our own proprietary strain of yeast that we captured from a Texas pecan (we call it the “Brazos”) and of course, pure Texas water.
In the glass, TX Straight Bourbon is a dark amber color – an indicator of the effect the hot Texas climate has had after years of aging in oak barrels. Upon swirling, long and slow legs showcase the spirit’s brilliant viscosity. At bottle strength, the nose is very bold with aromas of rich oak, caramel, cinnamon and allspice. Using a few drops of water for dilution, dark dried fruit, coconut, toasted almonds and more sweet spice fragrances radiate in the glass. On the palate, the velvety, mouth-coating sensation of the bourbon, along with its supreme drinkability, becomes apparent. The aromas carry through on the taste and provide a lingering finish.
At F&R, we use Texas yellow dent corn and Texas soft red winter wheat. Using Texas corn and wheat allows us to tap into how the Texas environment creates grain that is unique from other parts of the country and world. This uniqueness is expressed in a variety of flavors. Further, given that we use wheat versus the more common rye to complement the corn, our bourbon falls under the category of being a “wheated bourbon”.
Nowadays, all but a select few distilleries around the country buy commercially available yeast strains. At F&R, we captured a wild yeast strain right here in North Texas. This wasn’t exactly backyard science. Our Head Distiller, Rob Arnold, performed microbial isolations, DNA analyses, micro-fermentations and sensory analyses on the 100+ wild yeast samples we collected around North Texas. Ultimately, the strain that had all the characteristics we wanted, and the one we now use in every batch, was found on the Rancho Hielo Brazos ranch in Somervell County, Texas. As fate would have it, this yeast came from a single nut off the Texas state tree — the pecan. We gave the strain a proper scientific name of RHB-422, but we like to call it the “Brazos” strain. The Brazos strain produces flavors of dried fruit, sweet spice, and floral notes that are unique from any other strain of yeast.
By law, all straight bourbon whiskey must be aged at least two years in charred oak barrels. Charring the inside of the barrel caramelizes the natural wood sugars that will impart body, color and sweet/toasty flavors to the whiskey. It also breaks down the lignin, lipids and tannins in the oak to impart vanilla, spice, oak, coconut and floral flavors into the whiskey.
The key to producing a fully matured and balanced bourbon is temperature fluctuation, which makes our variable climate perfect for the job. In hot temperatures (think Texas summer), the whiskey permeates into the charred oak, and in colder temperatures, it recedes back into the barrel. The more the whiskey wrings-in and wrings-out of the charred oak, the faster it will mature, adding character and balance. It is this phenomena that allows our bourbon to gain its beautiful caramel-brown color and develops uniquely rich and bold flavors.
We barreled our first bourbon whiskey in March of 2012. After more than four years of aging, we harvested and bottled our first batch of TX Straight Bourbon in December of 2016. We are very proud of this special dram and hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.
Disclaimer: Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.