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State of euphoria: Fort Worth whiskey is a hit

Posted 7:09pm on Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2012

Fort Worth's first home-grown blend of booze isn't flying off the shelves; it's getting snapped up before it gets there.

After its first shipment of 750 bottles sold out in a flash, the four-person crew at Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. pulled an all-nighter last week filling 660 more bottles of TX Blended Whiskey.

"It has been crazy," said Leonard Firestone, who along with partner Troy Robertson has spent more than three years launching the craft distillery in a restored brick warehouse just south of downtown.

"The response has been extraordinary and somewhat overwhelming," he said. "We couldn't be more pleased with people's reactions. They love the taste of the product and the smoothness of the whiskey."

The out-of-the-chute reaction has floored Robertson. "We're just thankful, honestly, that people are liking it," he said. "We had no idea that it was going to take off this well. It's a good problem to have. Now we have to figure out how to make more product."

At Kings Liquor on Berry Street, all 30 bottles the store has gotten have gone to customers on a waiting list, said manager Stewart Hellman, who added that he is on the list, too.

"The hype gets big and supply is short, and that makes it intriguing for our customers, and they want it," Hellman said. "I've tasted it, and it's awesome. It's very smooth with a touch of sweetness with notes of vanilla and oak. I'm a bourbon drinker, and this is a blended whiskey with bourbon flavor."

The whiskey, with a suggested retail price of $39.95 for a fifth, is also making inroads at top-shelf area bars and restaurants.

Greg Kalina, Del Frisco's general manager, said he's "tried some of their booze. It's well-done; it's well-crafted."

Curtis Cheney, who is head barman at Del Frisco's and just served as a judge at The Ultimate Beverage Challenge in New York City, also likes what he's tasted. "When I tried it, I was quite impressed. I'm looking forward to playing with it in cocktails," he said.

TX Blended Whiskey is also being served at Reata and Whiskey and Rye at the Omni Hotel Fort Worth and is being picked up at the Woodshed and Lonesome Dove, Firestone said.

The blend is a "secret sauce" of spirits from three Kentucky distillers, Robertson said. It comes in a distinctive bottle featuring an individually applied canvas-wrapped neck and silver band. The corks are custom-topped with leather scraps from Fort Worth bootmaker M.L. Leddy's.

"We wanted something that was approachable that could appeal to nonwhiskey drinkers," Robertson said. "We've had a ton of women who tasted it who aren't whiskey drinkers and said they would drink it. That's huge."

The pair will have to wait at least two years to gauge the response to their brand of straight bourbon whiskey.

The whiskey is being distilled three days a week in two 500-gallon copper stills and stored in 53-gallon charred oak barrels "until it's ready," Robertson said.

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