Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a unique distillery that’s doing things a bit differently. From the interesting name to the fierce commitment to sustainable practices, Fierce Whiskers is getting noticed.
It’s a minority-owned bourbon distillery with a focus on quality and sustainability from grain to glass. They began distilling the first batches of straight rye and straight bourbon whiskey in September of 2020, with the goal to release the Fierce Whiskers Straight Rye by 2023 and a premium four-year-aged Straight Bourbon by 2024, as well as plans for an exclusive single malt.
Upon the recent grand opening of their new distillery and tasting room, Fierce Whiskers co-founder Tri Vo chatted with The Whiskey Wash about the brand’s up-and-coming foray into the world of bourbon and what’s on the horizon.
TWW: How do you explain the name Fierce Whiskers to the whiskey community outside of Austin and Texas?
Tri Vo: Rutherford B Hayes, the 19th President of the U.S., visited Austin and wrote that it was an “an inconsiderable village with large expectations … full of discharged ‘rangers’ … costumes of every variety … fierce whiskers, gaming, and drinking very abounding in all quarters.” Though we don’t think he meant to be complimentary of Austin, he was outlining a lot of what made Austin great, and still does. We decided to own that quote, to be a part of everything that makes the city what it is, which, in many ways, is still a wild land of growth, independence, and fierce whiskers. As people from outside of Austin get to know our whiskey and our brand, they will also get to know how we do things in Austin.
TWW: What is the optimum age for your bourbon, knowing that it’s going to age in the Texas weather?
Tri Vo: We are working hard not to just have the optimum processes to make the best bourbon, but also the best way to age. We can’t say today that we know the optimum age. Our oldest barrels are around one year old now, so we do know that it is getting better and better. We are going to let the whiskey tell us what the optimum age is.
TWW: Why is sustainability and the environment a top priority for the distillery?
Tri Vo: We believe climate change is the biggest issue of our time. We don’t view considering the environment as optional and it is top of mind as we make considerations every day. We won’t always get it right, but we believe it’s important to share our journey so others can learn from what we are doing, and hopefully we can inspire others to rethink how our society functions. We will never be done with sustainability initiatives.
TWW: With the distillery’s grand opening under your belt, what have you learned about the local whiskey community and whiskey consumers overall?
We are so very lucky to have the support of the local whiskey community. We are so early in our journey, we have no bottles for sale and won’t for years to come … it’s so hard to feel like we have earned the support we have been lucky enough to receive. It’s really energized our team to work hard every day and deliver for our community-at-large.
TWW: Can you talk about your grain-to-glass process?
Tri Vo: Ninety-nine percent of our grains are sourced from near Amarillo, and spent grain is donated to local livestock farmers to repurpose as feed. This supports our efforts to reduce waste and invest in a circular economy, a concept that aims to limit growth from the consumption of finite resources. We source white oak barrels from ISC, which ensures that every inch of the sustainably harvested log is utilized during production.
TWW: Tell us more about the “Destination Distillery” monicker for Fierce Whiskers.
Tri Vo: The quality of our product is important to us, but we wanted to be just as intentional about our space. We wanted to create a place where people can experience our journey to our final product. That’s why it was important to us to include glass and transparency wherever possible, as well as distill and age all of our products onsite. Though making the best whiskey possible is our main goal, we wanted the place where we make it to be an experience in its own right.
TWW: Where do you see the whiskey industry in five years and how does Fierce Whiskers fit into that?
Tri Vo: On sustainability, we will be pushing everyone that will listen to us to make it a bigger and bigger consideration. From our early conversations, distillers are very receptive and excited to make change. We need everyone to get on board, we can’t fight climate change by ourselves.
Overall, we can’t be more excited to be a part of this industry. As the amount of distillers increases, more and more ideas will find their way into whiskey expressions. The ideas being cultivated today, will just be starting to show up on shelves in five years. Consumers will win here, and Fierce Whiskers Distillery is up to the challenge. We will be working every day to make the best whiskey we possibly can.
Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...