January 27, 2015

Review and Distillery Tour - Garrison Brothers Distillery - & Our First Guest Post!

Hi all, this is sort of a special occasion - our first guest post!  Welcome Dave Robertson hailing from Lexington, KY, a 20+ year bourbon enthusiast, avid writer / traveler, and all around good guy!  Say hi to Dave.

I admit it. 

I was proud to be a “Bourbon snob”. In fact, it would have been hard for me to not have been. As an alumnus of the University of Kentucky, I live about 25 miles from Woodford Reserve. I’ve been to most of the stops along the Bourbon Trail, I have a fairly well stocked cabinet (with the required 23 year old Pappy and multiple bottles of George T. Stagg of course) and most importantly, I like bourbon. No, I mean I really like bourbon. OK, I really REALLY like bourbon and rarely drink anything else. And finally, though it may be called bourbon, if it didn’t come from inside those white horse farm fences in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it was just a pretender.

But that all ended this past Saturday during the most bizarre distillery or brewery tour I have ever been on, and for the record that’s a couple of dozen from Seattle to Scotland. It ended in the booming metropolis of Hye, TX (population 105) at the Garrison Brothers Distillery.

Hye, Texas is not the end of the world – but you can see it from there. 

I freely admit that I went there prepared to not like the place or their so called “straight Texas bourbon whiskey”. And first impressions kept me right on track. Hye, Texas is not the end of the world – but you can see it from there. And then there’s the brand new multi-million dollar high technology welcome center. Well, the welcome center is indeed new, but I don’t believe anyone would ever mistake it for “high tech”.

“We only had enough money for technology or liquor. We bought more liquor.”


No one was even there to welcome us for that matter. But there was a nice fire going in one of the several pits, which was much appreciated on a chilly day, and there was complimentary beer, wine and S’mores. No, that wasn’t a typo. Free beer, wine and S’mores – so pull up a chair and start toasting marshmallows!

Don't Let The Snakes Out

And if no chairs are available, there are benches that double as storage boxes. The kind where the seat is also the lid for the box. Nothing particularly notable about them, except the lids on these all say “PLEASE DON’T LET THE SNAKES OUT”. So, it was at this point that I came to the very reasonable conclusion that there was no tour, there was no distillery, and this was a well executed practical joke. But at that moment the “limo” arrived to take us to the distillery itself.

Fat Man & Little Boy

From this point things got as normal as they were going to be for the day and we got the usual “this is bourbon” lecture. But when the tour moved on and we found ourselves in the distilling room, the inmates had clearly taken over the asylum once more. They now have three stills, but for quite a while they only had two. And being that the two don’t resemble each other at all, they have named them “Fat Man and Little Boy”. And that confirmed it for me. These people are either disturbed, deranged, or as they say down here just plain “bat shit crazy”.

“Yep, that’s what we named them. And anyone that is even remotely offended by that probably needs to go somewhere else. This is Texas, we don’t give a damn.”

When we (finally!) got to the tasting room, I was more than prepared to run like hell if we were offered blue Kool-Aid, but instead what I got was a sample of some of the best bourbon I’ve had in a long time. So let’s skip the customary “nutty with hints of oak and honey” and let me say straight up – this is damned good whiskey! Damned good! And these people are having a damned good time making it. It has a distinct sweetness that some people may not care for (I loved it!) but my party unanimously gave it a big thumbs up.

Excellent bourbon made by genuinely nice people apparently having the time of their lives. So what’s not to like? Well, if there is anything to find fault with, it’s the price point. Their 2014 release is $89.00 and their single barrel is $109.00 and to me, that presents a problem. I’ll say it again, I absolutely loved the stuff….but there are a hell of a lot of excellent bourbons to be bought in that price range.

But the bottom line is still that great bourbon, made by great people makes for a great time. So, if you’re ever in the area (no, you go Google it yourself), do yourself a favor and go. Reservations are required, but the S’mores are still free. Enjoy!

Reviews from the Beasts

We happened to get a bottle of Garrison Brothers from some friends (thanks Ali!) right around the time that Dave was at the distillery, so here's our take.

Mrs. Beast:  A lot of apple in the nose.  A very light bourbon.  I like it a lot.  Still has a lot of sweetness but not very rich, kind of a crisp nose.  The taste has a little pumpkin, like toasted pumpkin seeds, also some salty brine.  A good balance of salt and sweet.  It opened up very well after having the bottle open for a while.  

Mr. Beast:  I get the apples, and also some butterscotch and vanilla, some char, and some rye spice on the nose.  There's also some harshness, like rubber cement and tin foil.  Lots of stuff banging around in the nose...  The taste is kind of nice.  It's well balanced and pretty rich.  There's not much of a finish to speak of, but there's also a noticeable lack of alcohol burn for this young a whiskey.  But overall this one is not for me, certainly not at $90.  It's a good product from a craft distillery but would have to come in around half the price to get a solid recommendation.

Thanks Dave for our first guest post!  Hope to have you back on the beast soon.  Cheers!


  1. I'm with you, Mr. Beast! Most expensive truly bad bourbon I've ever tasted. What a waste of $83.99!