Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Garrison Brothers. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
For such a new operation, Garrison Brothers Distillery has made quite the splash in the bourbon scene. Since releasing their first batch a mere 12 years ago in 2010, the Hye, Texas, distillery has already racked up numerous awards, including Gold Medals from the 2011 Denver International Spirits Competition, 2014 Micro Whiskey of the Year, 2015 LA International Spirits Competition, 2015 American Spirits Competition, 2015 International Spirits Prestige Awards, and 2020 North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition, to name a scant few.
There simply isn’t the time or space to list the rest of their Gold Medals, let alone the many Silver and Bronze Medals in between, but it is worth mentioning that this offering, Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon, has already claimed its own fair share of awards in the short time since its July 23, 2022 release date. Those awards exceed even the remarkably celebrated distillery’s previous standards and earned this newest release not only a Gold at the TAG Global Spirit Awards, but a Platinum and the coveted Spirit of the Year from the 2022 Monterey International Wine and Spirits Competition.
So is it really that good, or is the bourbon community simply excited to see Texas finally make its presence known in the international whiskey scene? Handily, the answer is the former; it’s very tasty stuff. Texans, breathe easy. Your first legal distillery has done the state proud.
Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon is a unique whiskey, no doubt about it. Sitting at 107 proof and aged four years in charred American oak before finishing with two more years in imported Portuguese Port casks, the whiskey develops trademark sweet notes which are typical of bourbon yet elevated by the introduction and influence of the Port casks. It’s a bourbon that can accompany a dessert or be a dessert, with either choice proving equally satisfactory.
Also of note are Garrison Brothers Distillery’s custom-coopered oak barrels, which host deliberately thicker staves in order to withstand extreme Texan heat waves. This was a choice made after a heartbreaking first year during which traditional oak barrels were split and the distillery’s entire stock was lost. Luckily for us, Garrison Brothers Distillery used the tragic circumstance as a learning experience rather than giving up.
For many bourbons, high viscosity results in an almost syrupy texture which is quite unpleasant on the tongue. By taking their product to a higher proof than average, Garrison Brothers offsets that deep richness with an aggressive edge. The resulting mouthful is truly unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, which in this case is a high compliment.
Garrison Brothers Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon (image via Garrison Brothers)
Vital Stats: 53.5% ABV (107 proof) aged four years in charred American oak and two years in imported port casks. MSRP $149.99
Appearance: Dark, maple-brown in color and medium-high in viscosity.
Nose: The bouquet is strong but sweet, with heavy brown sugar and cinnamon notes backed by milk chocolate and a hint of jalapeño pepper.
Palate: The viscosity and sweetness are offset by the high-proof intensity, providing a uniquely pleasant mouthfeel. Notes of maple, tobacco leaf, nutmeg, and vanilla are immediately present, with raspberry making itself known shortly after and a lingering caramel-corn finish. Shockingly easy to sip for 107-proof.
A surprising and outstanding bourbon with an identity all its own. It stands on its own two feet as a dessert whiskey but would be equally at home accompanying a dark chocolate of your choice. I have tasted far worse whiskeys with far higher price points. If you get the chance, definitely try this bourbon before it’s gone.
Austin Scarberry is a writer and pastry chef based in Portland, Oregon. He uses his experience in the culinary industry to inform his reviews, letting the gentle thoughtfulness he learned from baking guide his work. Outside of The Whiskey Wash, he mainly writes poetry and fantasy/sci-fi. You can find his...