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The Texas whiskey scene is growing in leaps and bounds, with distilleries across the state making everything from bourbon to rye to single malt. Add one more whiskey to the mix—Garrison Brothers, the first Texas distillery to operate since Prohibition, just dropped a new bottle that it claims is the oldest bourbon to come out of the Lone Star State.
Garrison Brothers started making whiskey over a decade ago in 2010, and has become a fan favorite of whiskey drinkers nationwide over the years. The distillery makes wheated bourbon, meaning wheat is used as the secondary flavoring grain instead of rye, that is distilled and aged onsite about an hour outside of Austin. That means that the whiskey is subjected to pretty extreme temperature changes as it matures, and that shows up in this intensely flavored (and colored) bourbon. The core whiskey is the Small Batch Bourbon, but there are a slew of more limited releases like the high-proof Cowboy Bourbon, double-barreled Balmorhea, honey-infused and Cognac cask-finished Lady Bird, and the distillery’s oldest release, Laguna Madre.
The 2023 release of Laguna Madre was aged for four years in American white oak barrels, and then another four years in Limousin oak casks from France. The press release claims that this is the first bourbon to be finished in this type of cask. There is at least one other out there—Colorado brand Old Elk’s Cognac cask-finished bourbon—but Garrison Brothers’ was released a year before that whiskey. Whatever the case, Laguna Madre does seem to qualify as the oldest bourbon to be produced entirely in Texas. It’s bottled at 101 proof and official tasting notes describe root beer, vanilla bean, hazelnut, saltwater taffy, and chocolate gems on the palate.
Laguna Madre was first released just three years ago in 2020 to benefit a charitable organization set up to help hospitality workers who were suffering economically during the pandemic. This year’s release will benefit FlatsWorthy, a non-profit formed to help preserve the coastal areas of Texas. Laguna Madre was officially released on July 22 at the distillery in a run of just 2,100 bottles, 1,000 of which were purchased by visitors to the distillery. The rest will be available at retailers with an SRP of $350 in the coming days. You can also find older releases for double the price from websites like Caskers, as well as other bottles in the portfolio from ReserveBar.