From Tree to Tumbler: The Spirited Tale of Treaty Oak Distillery

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4.7/5Overall Score

"Deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, Treaty Oak Distillery is redefining what it means to craft authentic Texas Bourbon. With roots as deep as the iconic Texas oaks, this distillery takes the rich flavors and robust spirit of the Texan landscape and distills it into every bottle. When you think Texas Bourbon, think Treaty Oak – where the soul of Texas meets the art of distillation."

“Deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, Treaty Oak Distillery is redefining what it means to craft authentic Texas Bourbon. With roots as deep as the iconic Texas oaks, this distillery takes the rich flavors and robust spirit of the Texan landscape and distills it into every bottle. When you think Texas Bourbon, think Treaty Oak – where the soul of Texas meets the art of distillation.”

1. Quick Introduction to Treaty Oak Distilling

Perched gracefully on the picturesque Texan landscape, Treaty Oak Distilling emerges as a testament to authentic craftsmanship, a balance between age-old distillation techniques and contemporary innovation. This distillery is more than just a producer of spirits – it’s a purveyor of experiences, stories, and a love letter to the Texan soil from which its flavors arise. As I journeyed through the world of Treaty Oak, every sip felt like a dialogue, evoking memories of sunlit days and warm Texan nights.

2. Tracing Back the Roots: Distillery’s History

Every spirit has a story, and Treaty Oak Distilling has a tale as rich and complex as the drinks it lovingly crafts. Named after the historic Treaty Oak tree in Austin, this distillery pays homage to deep Texan roots and traditions. Established in 2006, Treaty Oak Distilling takes pride in its 15-plus years of dedication to the craft. While many distilleries rely on imported spirits, Treaty Oak’s ethos is grounded in its commitment to locally sourced ingredients, mirroring Texas’s grandeur and diversity in each bottle. Their passionate and dedicated team, under the guiding vision of founder Daniel Barnes, has meticulously honed their art, creating beverages that echo the soul of Texas.

3. Spotlight on Excellence: Highlighting Three Signature Spirits

Waterloo No.9 Gin: At first glance, the crystalline clarity of the Waterloo No.9 Gin might deceive you, but a closer encounter reveals its complex symphony of flavors. Infused with a unique blend of Texan botanicals like lavender, pecan, and grapefruit zest, every sip is a vivid portrayal of its home state. There’s a “zestiness” that’s hard to pinpoint, a delightful dance between floral and spicy notes, reminiscent of a spring day in Texas.

Red-Handed Bourbon Whiskey: If ever there was a spirit that narrated a story, it would be the Red-Handed Bourbon Whiskey. Aged to perfection and sourced from the finest distilleries, this bourbon stands out with its rich amber hue, signifying its maturity and depth. The taste? A deep resonance of dried fruits, honey, and a touch of spice, encapsulating the true essence of the South.

The “Red Handed” name for one of their bourbons is a playful nod to the idea of being “caught red-handed,” or being caught in the act of doing something wrong.

The story behind the name comes from the distillery’s early days. Treaty Oak’s “Red Handed” bourbon wasn’t originally distilled by them. Instead, they sourced whiskey from other distilleries and then blended and aged them to their specifications. This act of “taking” whiskey from other distilleries and making it their own is playfully represented by the term “red-handed,” as in they were “caught” taking whiskey. However, it’s worth noting that sourcing whiskey is a common practice in the industry, especially for newer distilleries that may not have aged stocks of their own.

Treaty Oak’s Red-Handed Bourbon stands out because it’s sourced from other distilleries and then blended, aged further, or treated in some unique way by Treaty Oak to create their own distinct product. This practice of sourcing and then modifying is not uncommon in the whiskey industry. When looking for similar bourbons in terms of this approach, you might consider:

Bulleit Bourbon: Though now with its distillery, Bulleit has been known to source its bourbon, particularly from MGP in Indiana, for many years. Their distinct high-rye mash bill and flavor profile have garnered many fans.

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey: While a rye and not a bourbon, WhistlePig is worth mentioning as they’ve been known to source older rye whiskey stocks and then finish them in unique barrels to produce premium offerings.

High West Distillery: Based in Utah, High West is renowned for their blending prowess. They’ve sourced whiskies from different places and then expertly blend them, sometimes even finishing them in unique casks to create innovative products.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout: This product line includes sourced whiskeys, which the distillery openly acknowledges. Old Scout has become popular among bourbon enthusiasts.

Barrell Bourbon: This company specializes in sourcing and then blending whiskies from various places to create unique and often high-proof offerings. Each batch can vary significantly.

When comparing any of these to Treaty Oak’s Red Handed Bourbon, it’s essential to focus on the flavor profile you prefer, as each bourbon will have its distinct taste and characteristics.

Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon: Aged for years in American white oak barrels, the Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon offers a perfect blend of corn, wheat, barley, and rye, all harvested from the Treaty Oak estate. This bourbon speaks of dedication. Its rich caramel notes juxtaposed with hints of vanilla make it a drink for those who appreciate depth and complexity.

Treaty Oak emphasizes a “grain-to-glass” approach with their Ghost Hill Bourbon. It’s made with grains that are sourced from Barton Springs Mill, emphasizing the local connection further. The name, then, also reinforces the idea that the spirit is deeply connected to its Texas roots.

Treaty Oak’s “Ghost Hill Bourbon” has a name deeply rooted in the locale and history of the distillery.  Treaty Oak Distilling is located on Ghost Hill Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas. The bourbon is named after this location, giving a nod to the local terroir and the influence it has on the spirit. The legend, as shared by the distillery, claims that the Ghost Hill Ranch is haunted by spirits from a gold rush era town that once bustled with life but was eventually deserted. These spirits or “ghosts” are a part of the lore of the hill and ranch where Treaty Oak Distilling makes its home.

As always, names of spirits, especially craft spirits, often carry deeper meanings or stories related to the brand, locale, or history, and Ghost Hill Bourbon is a perfect example of this tradition.

4. Exploring the Entire Collection: Other Noteworthy Products

Waterloo Antique Gin: A deeper, richer cousin of the Waterloo No.9, the Antique Gin boasts a barrel-aged quality, adding layers of oak, caramel, and vanilla to the botanical base.

Treaty Oak Rum: Distilled from the finest molasses and aged in bourbon barrels, this rum is a sweet ode to the Caribbean while retaining its distinct Texan flair.

The Day Drinker: A gentle yet flavorful spirit, perfect for those who wish to savor bourbon without the intense depth. It’s a mellow day’s companion, best enjoyed under the Texan sun. True to its name, you can imagine how easy it will be to finish a bottle of this off in a few days!

5. Visiting Treaty Oak Distillery

Treaty Oak Distilling offers more than just a place to sample and purchase their spirits. Located on a sprawling ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, the distillery has developed into a destination with a range of amenities for visitors. Some of these amenities and offerings include:

Tastings: Visitors can sample a variety of Treaty Oak’s spirits, including their whiskeys, gins, and other products.

Tours: The distillery offers guided tours where guests can learn about the distillation process, the history of the company, and the story behind each of their products.

Cocktail Bar: A bar on-site serves a variety of cocktails showcasing Treaty Oak’s spirits.

Dining: Treaty Oak has a culinary program, and their on-site restaurant offers a range of dishes that are often locally sourced and pair well with their spirits.

Live Music: On certain days or events, the distillery hosts live music, making it a lively spot to relax and enjoy the ambiance.

Picnic and Relaxation Areas: The property has ample space for visitors to relax, with picnic tables and shaded areas.

Retail Shop: Visitors can purchase bottles of Treaty Oak spirits, branded merchandise, and other related products.

Special Events: The distillery frequently hosts special events, releases, and other gatherings that can vary throughout the year.

Scenic Views: Being located in the Texas Hill Country, the distillery offers picturesque views that add to the overall experience.

If you’re planning a visit, it’s always a good idea to check their official website or contact them directly to see if there are any new amenities, special events, or changes to their offerings.

6. A Toast to the Future: Looking Forward

The journey with Treaty Oak Distilling has been nothing short of enchanting. With every spirit they craft, they not only encapsulate the rich and diverse essence of Texas but also manifest a promise of continual innovation. Their commitment to authenticity, local produce, and an unwavering love for the craft makes them a beacon in the world of distillation. Here’s raising a glass to many more years of unmatched flavors and stories.

7. FAQ

Q: Where can I visit Treaty Oak Distilling?

A: Treaty Oak Distilling boasts a beautiful ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, where visitors can revel in tastings, tours, and a firsthand experience of the distilling process.

Q: What sets Treaty Oak beverages apart?

A: Their unwavering commitment to using locally-sourced ingredients and a deep-rooted love for Texan traditions infuse every bottle with unmatched authenticity and flavor.

Q: Are there any signature cocktails I should try?

A: Absolutely! Their on-site mixologists craft signature cocktails that best showcase the spirits. The “Texas Mule” with their premium vodka is a crowd favorite.

Q: Can I purchase their spirits online?

A: Yes, Treaty Oak Distilling offers online purchasing options, allowing you to relish their spirits from anywhere.

Q: Do they offer group tours or events?

A: They certainly do! You can book group tours, tastings, and even special events at their distillery for a unique experience.

As the sun sets on this review, one thing remains clear: Treaty Oak Distilling isn’t just a distillery. It’s a testament to Texan passion, craftsmanship, and the magic that happens when both come together. Cheers to that!

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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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