Forget Kentucky! Why This Texas Bourbon is the Smoothest Whiskey You’ll Ever Taste

Tucked away in the rolling hills of Texas lies Garrison Brothers Distillery, crafting some of the finest bourbon whiskey in the country.
  • Ambiance of Distillery
  • Selection
  • Value / Price
4.1/5Overall Score

Tucked away in the rolling hills of Texas lies Garrison Brothers Distillery, crafting some of the finest bourbon whiskey in the country. Using local grains and spring water on their Hye, Texas ranch, Garrison Brothers focuses on quality over quantity, producing authentic, small batch bourbon. Their attention to detail shines through in whiskies like the sweet and spicy Cowboy Bourbon, their signature expression aged 3-4 years. For a peek into Texas whiskey history, Garrison Brothers offers an unforgettable distillery tour and tasting. Wandering their charming grounds and sampling their smooth bourbon firsthand makes it clear - Garrison Brothers embodies the frontier spirit of Texas in every bottle. With its meticulous production and rich, complex flavors, Garrison Brothers is creating America's next great bourbon.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • A Small-Town Texas Treasure
  • Bourbon Highlights
  • The Full Lineup
  • The Garrison Brothers Experience
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion: Lone Star Excellence


Nestled in the heart of Texas hill country lies a small-town distillery producing world-class bourbon unlike any other. Garrison Brothers Distillery, located in Hye, Texas, focuses on making authentic, handcrafted bourbon using local grains and clear spring water from their own land. As a passionate bourbon enthusiast, I was eager to visit Garrison Brothers and sample their spirits firsthand. What I discovered during my tour and tasting was a down-to-earth distillery creating bourbon with meticulous care and Texas-sized flavor. This review will highlight Garrison Brothers’ storied history, outstanding bourbon, distillation process, and the people behind this Lone Star gem. After learning about their operation and sipping on their smooth whiskey, I can say without a doubt that Garrison Brothers is crafting some of the best bourbon in the United States.

A Small-Town Texas Treasure

Garrison Brothers Distillery was founded in 2006 by Dan Garrison, a passionate entrepreneur with a dream of creating a bourbon that embodied the spirit of Texas. After years of planning and preparation, Garrison finally achieved his goal, registering the very first legal bourbon distillery in Texas history. The journey began on a small plot of land in the Blanco River valley, with nothing more than a grain silo, barn, and pot still. Using local corn harvested just down the road, Garrison and his team set out to make their distinctive Texas bourbon. It was immediately apparent they had something special. After winning several major whiskey awards with their inaugural 2006 bourbon, Garrison Brothers started gaining acclaim.

While the distillery has grown over the years, Garrison Brothers still operates on their original farmhouse property. They use the same local water source, focus heavily on quality over quantity, and nurture close relationships with Texas farmers to source the best non-GMO grains. Visiting Garrison Brothers feels like stepping back in time, wandering through old barns and watching whiskey flow from antique copper stills. But their hands-on approach and attention to detail is what separates Garrison Brothers bourbon from the competition. Every step matters to Garrison and his team, from cooking and mashing to distillation and barreling. The result is a truly handmade bourbon with a smooth taste and complex flavor profile. After sampling their spirits firsthand, it’s clear why Garrison Brothers has earned such devotion from bourbon fans across the country.

Bourbon Highlights

While Garrison Brothers creates several exceptional bourbons, a few of their standout expressions deserve special attention. Here are my top picks:

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon (Limited)

The flagship Garrison Brothers bourbon, this is their core expression and my personal favorite. Aged for 3-4 years, Cowboy Bourbon has a delightful sweetness up front followed by oak, caramel, and spice. It’s rich but smooth, with buttery toffee and dried fruit notes. Bottled at a brawny 135 proof (67.4% ABV), this bourbon has some serious Texas swagger. This is also the most expensive of the bourbons at around $250.

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea

This special release is named after the famous swimming hole in Balmorhea State Park. Aged 6-7 years, Balmorhea has deep, complex flavors like brown sugar, maple syrup, orange peel and baking spices. The longer aging gives it a thick, viscous mouthfeel and concentrated oak essence. Balmorhea is bottled at 115 proof for maximum intensity. Sip it slow and enjoy the ride.

Laguna Madre

A limited release from hand selected Limousin oak barrels exemplifies their signature bourbons. This special release has evident vanilla and white chocolate flavors. Bottled at 101 proof, it’s robust but refined. But good luck finding one of these!

The Full Lineup

Beyond their highlighted bourbons, Garrison Brothers produces an array of spectacular whiskies. Here’s a snapshot of their full whiskey family:

Small Batch – Each year this one bourbon changes. It is a refined vintage bottled at 94 proof and aged at least 3 years.

Single Barrel Bourbon (Limited) – Their Cowboy Bourbon from single barrels, with varied age and bottling proof depending on the barrel.

Honey Dew Bourbon – Made with pure Texas wildflower honey. Notes of honeycomb and butterscotch complement the bourbon. Bottled at 80 proof, one of the lowest proof bourbons produced by Garrison Brothers.

Hye Rye – This one is experimental and only available at the distillery (only 1200 bottles).

Guadalupe (limited) – Bottled at 107 proof, this one has a sweet, port wine finish.  If there was ever such a thing as a dessert bourbon, this would be it.

As you can see, Garrison Brothers not only makes an exceptional baseline bourbon, but also experiments extensively with special finishes, barrel aging techniques, and mash bills. There is a Garrison Brothers whiskey suited for every palate.

The Garrison Brothers Experience

Beyond just the whiskey itself, the whole Garrison Brothers distillery experience reflects the brand’s dedication and charm. Their quaint Hye, Texas location allows visitors to see firsthand how hands-on and small batch their process is. Watching the masters distill, meeting the farmers who grow the corn and grain, wandering through warehouses piled high with aging barrels – every part of the tour brings you closer to Garrison’s genuine whiskey-making passion.

Of course, one of the best parts of visiting Garrison Brothers is tasting the bourbon. Their gorgeous new tasting room lets guests sample all of Garrison’s spirits firsthand, while taking in the beautiful Texas Hill Country views. Our tasting guide was incredibly knowledgeable about every step of production and clearly proud to represent Garrison Brothers. The whole experience felt like joining the Garrison family for an afternoon.

Conclusion: Lone Star Excellence

Garrison Brothers Distillery stands out not just as an excellent distillery, but an essential part of Texas history and culture. They represent the tenacious spirit of Texas with their attention to quality, use of local ingredients, and determination to create America’s next great bourbon from scratch. After touring Garrison Brothers and sipping their whiskeys, I was left extremely impressed by the brand’s commitment to excellence. They have raised the bar for Lone Star bourbon. With a meticulous focus on quality and flavor, Garrison Brothers is crafting some of the finest bourbon found anywhere in the world. For bourbon lovers, Garrison Brothers is certainly worth discovering.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Garrison Brothers Distillery:

Q: Where is Garrison Brothers Distillery located?

A: Garrison Brothers is located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country town of Hye, roughly an hour west of Austin. Their distillery sits on a ranch in the Blanco River valley.

Q: Can you tour Garrison Brothers Distillery?

A: Yes! Garrison Brothers offers an in-depth tour and tasting experience daily. Tours allow visitors to see their operation up close and taste their products.

Q: What is Garrison Brothers bourbon made from?

A: Garrison Brothers uses a mash bill of corn, wheat and barley, with some expressions also incorporating rye and honey malted barley. The grains are non-GMO and sourced locally in Texas.

Q: Where can you buy Garrison Brothers bourbon?

A: Garrison Brothers bourbons are sold in liquor stores, bars and restaurants across the United States. Limited releases sell out quickly and may be harder to find. The distillery sells bottles on site.

Q: What awards have Garrison Brothers won?

A: Garrison Brothers has won numerous awards at spirits competitions, including Double Gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Their Cowboy Bourbon received Best American Whiskey at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.

Q: How should you drink Garrison Brothers bourbon?

A: Most aficionados recommend sipping Garrison Brothers bourbon neat or on the rocks to highlight the flavors. Cocktails like Old Fashioned also highlight the bourbon beautifully.

Q: Can you purchase Garrison Brothers bourbon internationally?

A: Currently Garrison Brothers distributes primarily within the United States. International shipping laws make it difficult to sell their whiskey outside the US.

About the Author

A native of Texas, Ken “Texan” Pierce is a renowned alcohol aficionado with over 15 years of experience in the Texas wine, whiskey, and beer industry. With a vast number of alcohol production resources right in his back yard in the Texas Hill Country, Ken has made it his mission to promote and advance the Texas winemaking, distilling, and brewing industry across the country.  His uncanny ability to identify tasting notes and pairings makes him a respected authority within alcohol enthusiast circles. When he’s not reviewing the latest craft spirits, you can find Ken playing his guitar, trying to sing, and sipping on a Texas libation.

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