Whiskey Review: Firestone & Robertson TX Straight Bourbon

With the most prominent thing on this bottle of bourbon being the giant vertical ‘TX,’ one quickly infers that this bottle is full of Texas pride. Indeed, head distiller Rob Arnold has pushed as hard as possible to capture the terroir of his home state.

As we reported back in December, this four-year aged Bourbon contains some truly Texan ingredients: #2 Yellow Dent Texas corn, Texas Soft Red winter wheat, and Texas water. Each bottle is even topped with a random piece of fur or leather from nearby bootmakers with whom the distillery works closely (they even take requests for custom toppers.) Most unique, however, would be the proprietary yeast strain that was harvested from a friend’s Texas pecan tree.

According to the distillery, this yeast was harvested not from the actual tree, but from one lone pecan from said tree. Arnold’s process included harvesting over 100 samples of wild yeast, isolating all strains and testing them in small “micro-fermentations,” and then studying each for unique effectiveness and character. The chosen strain, named “Brazos” after the ranch on which the tree grows, exhibits character described by the distillery as a unique blend of “dried fruit,” “sweet spice,” and “floral” notes.

The distillery also claims that the intense Texas temperature fluctuation allows for a rapid aging, given the contrast of hot days and cool nights which allow the whiskey to seep in and out of the wood’s grain as it expands and contracts daily. TX Straight Bourbon was aged just over four years and released for the first time in December of 2016.

Firestone & Robertson TX Straight Bourbon

image via Jim Bonomo/The Whiskey Wash

Vital Stats: 90 Proof. $50/750ml. Mashbill: Corn, Red Wheat, 6-row malt.

Appearance: Pours a sunny, light chestnut with bright amber edges. Thick, wave-like legs drip slowly showing some burliness. Clarity is excellent and it possesses a vibrancy that is very inviting to my thirst for whiskey.

Nose: Big bursts of green apple lead off the initial aroma, followed by notes of banana milkshake and buttery brioche. There is a thankful woody, almost meaty softness that comes through as my nose adjusts, probably the oak, which reads as dusty, almost paper-like, and lacks a punch of vanilla that these sniffs are sorely missing. Aroma can best be summed up as the smell of eating fruit salad from a leather bowl.

Palate: The first thing that my tongue picks up on is the texture. The wheat used here provides a really excellent, silky, velvety texture that lingers and helps carry all the flavors slowly and long across the palate. Problem here, however, is that the flavors aren’t exactly on point. There is a mid-palate note of caramel-coated peanuts that provide the most interesting nuance and a great sweet/oak balance, but it’s surrounded by oddities.

The floral note, which hits immediately, strikes me as more vegetal, bringing to mind steamed artichokes. There is some vanilla in the taste, which translates more to burnt marshmallows and dominates the finish along with a harsher alcohol burn. The finish comes across as astringent with the aformentioned dusty oakiness.

The Takeaway

This bourbon was disappointing based on the amount of passion and enthusiasm shown for it by its creators . Still, it shows the right direction is present but experience, perhaps, and time, are what will evolve this product in to something that bears cohesion and finesse. I'm excited about what's been coming out of Texas lately, and I hope to one day be excited about this bottle of TX. For $50 though, I won't feel bad using the rest in some fruit-forward Old Fashioneds.

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User Rating 2.5 (4 votes)
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Jim Bonomo

  • T Long

    I was disappointed too. I was expecting much more. I was at the distiller a few days after release. Said the line on release day wrapped around the block. I prefer their sourced blended whiskey which tasted just like liquid pecan pie. The pecan connection just cannot be a coincidence.