Fort Worth-based Firestone and Robertson Distilling Co. won double gold medals and Best in Class in the category of American Craft Whiskey for their TX blended whiskey at the 13th Annual World Spirits Competition in San Francisco recently, where more than 1,407 spirits were poured from 63 countries in 85 different classifications.
For the American Whiskey segment, a category that didn't even exist until two years ago, there were 45 total. Seven whiskeys earned double gold medals, including the aforementioned TX, and Yellow Rose in Pinehurst, just north of Houston. North Texas-based Texas Silver Star received a silver star, as did Balcones out of Waco.
The World Spirits Competition is the largest in the United States. and often leads as an indicator of trends in the marketplace. In January, The New York Times looked at the great influx of American craft whiskey and the article focused on Balcones in Waco. So, it's safe to say the time for craft whiskey has arrived. Fortunately for us, some of the best distilelrs in the States happen to be our neighbors.
Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel Magazine and founding director of the World Spirits Competition, says craft spirits are blooming all over the country, "but nowhere has been as active and successful as Texas."
"Chip Tate's Balcones started winning medals a few years ago with his corn whiskey and now this burgeoning distiller is making single malt and has even ventured into rum."
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Blue goes on to point out that, as evidenced by this year's results, "The quality of whiskeys coming from Texas are at a very high level and hold great promise for the industry there."
Here's a little more on TX from a previous interview with Firestone and Robertson.
You also have a blended whiskey, TX. How is it unique? Leonard Firestone: Specifically, TX's uniqueness comes from the whiskeys we chose to marry. TX is a premium American blended whiskey and there is really no other premium American blend on the market. It is a premium product because the youngest whiskey we use is at least 5 years old. Blending whiskey to create a unique tasting product is an art form almost as old as distilling spirits. Think of some of the great blended whiskey brands of the world: Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker, Dewar's and J&B to name a few. The only well known American Blend is Seagram's, so we think there is a great opportunity to establish a distinct, high-quality, American blend.
How did you create the blend? Leonard Firestone: Troy (Robertson) and I started sampling whiskeys from around the world about two years ago. When sampling, we looked for specific qualities in the whiskeys, good and bad, in order to identify whiskeys that could potentially marry well.
The challenge came from identifying superior whiskeys that complement each other because of their individual strengths and weaknesses, but marry perfectly to achieve something special. We developed countless blends until we came upon a taste profile that achieved our goal: something smooth and complex, yet approachable to many consumers.
Firestone and Robertson are currently sitting on some straight bourbon whiskey that was produced with indigenous Texas ingredients and resources. The barrels are aging in the Fort Worth distillery and just surpassed the one-year mark this March. They will continue to simmer for one more year before they are ready to pour. We anxiously await.