Review: Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon (Fall 2013)

Review: Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon (Fall 2013)

Garrison Brothers TxSBW Image 1

Hye is one of those tiny towns that everyone from Texas (including myself) has heard of, but no one actually knows where it is. There it lies, on the road from Austin to Fredericksburg, and it’s here where Garrison Brothers is making some fine “micro” whiskey.

The brothers Garrison don’t disclose their exact mashbill on this, their flagship product, but it’s about 3/4 local corn (#1 Panhandle White, in case you’re curious), along with estate-grown wheat and malted barley (not local) making up the rest. At present, the whiskey is aged for two years in American oak barrels before bottling. But intriguingly, Garrison doesn’t just say that its product could change over time, rather the distillery insists that it will.

Garrison Brothers takes a vintage-based approach to whiskeymaking, insisting that each year’s product should be better than the last. That began with its first batch in 2008. Reviewed below is a bottle distilled in 2010 and released in Fall 2013 (bottle number 453). Garrison insists it should be better than the whiskey in 2009, just as the whiskey from 2011 should be an improvement over this. (As of late 2013, six different “vintages” had been released — more than one vintage is produced each year.) The only question is whether it can really deliver on that promise, which we hope to put to the test over the next decade or so. The company says it is now warehousing some 5000 barrels of product.

As for the whiskey we have here, it’s burly, frontier stuff with plenty of kick. The nose is strong with wood, lumberyard notes intermingled with hints of vanilla and caramel. The body reveals far more — eventually. That wood character is powerful up front, to the point where you wonder if that’s the whole show. It isn’t until the finish gets going where Garrison Brothers’ other characteristics begin to shine. As it’s but two years old, there’s plenty of youthful roasted corn here, but unlike many other young whiskeys, those notes are balanced with some more exciting, and more mature, flavors. There’s deep, almost burnt, caramel here, as well as brown butter, cloves, and some chili powder. This all develops more seamlessly and interestingly than you’d think — and all at the end. Give this whiskey ample time in the glass — Garrison recommends a cube of ice — and you’ll see the popcorn settle down and the other components really begin to build up.

Fun, fun stuff, although quite expensive for the drinker used to $25 bottlings from Kentucky. No matter: I’m looking forward to seeing the Garrison Brothers’ next act!

94 proof. Reviewed: Fall 2013 release.


Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon (Fall 2013)




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Anne Camden on June 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    We did the Distillery tour last weekend for Father’s Day, and my husband Cary was able to spend a few minutes chatting with Master Distiller Donnis Todd. He shared an interesting tidbit – fall and spring releases have very different taste profiles – fall is more traditional (carmel, vanilla) while spring is more spicy (his word). We picked up a bottle of the Single Barrel, which hasn’t been opened yet, but am looking forward to it!

  2. RRUFF on March 8, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    This is the worst spirit of any type that I have ever tasted. My home bar has 74 whiskeys and this is the only bottle that is not displayed. It is truly awful. Prominent notes are day old cigar, paint thinner, and dog. AVOID IT

  3. Yuck on April 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Was looking forward to this, but hated it. Has a very harsh, bitter taste that does not go down well. I let it rest in a glass 5 minutes, added a cube, and then let it melt but nothing I did could redeem this bottle. I put it away. And to think I was proud of its Texas roots, but that alone isn’t enough reason to get it again.

  4. Really Dissapointing on September 12, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I have to agree with some of the other reviews, and hate to give a negative review, but the Garrison Brothers bourbon was awful. I think it was the worst bourbon I’ve ever had, and when you consider the price it’s hard to believe they can move any bottles off the shelf. I really recommend trying this one at a bar before shelling out $90 for a bottle. I’m glad I did and will be avoiding this one in the future.

    • Christopher Null on September 12, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Gotta say I’m looking forward to trying this again at some point to see if my notes stand up (I don’t have a bottle on hand)… wondering how much bottle variability impacts this, too.

  5. Lawrence Kennon on April 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Took the tour of the distillery and then bought a bottle at Costco (was Sunday when did tour and can’t buy whiskey in Texas on Sunday ….). Anyway, I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought it was worth the experiment. I rather liked it and will probably buy another bottle down the road.

    Not an expert, but been drinking various kinds of whiskey for half a century now.

  6. Ken6 on January 13, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Garrison Brothers:
    Price 40 dollars for 375 Ml.
    Bottle: Cool.

    Nose: As First Poured- Alchohol was the first thing I noticed…
    First sip: a little Burn, and little bitey on first sip, carmel toward the back, and .. lingering notes of wood… Maybe a little smokey..

    After letting it sit in the glass in front of me, the smell of carmel popcorn wafted from a good 20 inches from the glass, making my mouth water…

    Second nose: If i get too close to the glass, the alchohol overpowers the sweeter notes… so I backed off about six inches… now I get the sweet mouth watering essence of sweet buttery corn…

    Second sip: Definately taste the oak barrel in this, but it is nice… the corn comes after… and there is a little burn on the swallow with a finish that reminds me of ambesol. haha…

    Then it loosens up to a nice liqourice… oak notes remain, then that sweet aroma of spring time fresh hay mixed with roasted marshmallows… and my mouth begins to water for another sip…

    This is a young bourbon whiskey, but the Texas Heat and Texas Corn must do something to bring out that wood barrel note… it seems to get more aromatic the longer it sits in front of me. The longer I wait between sips,, the more I want to taste it again.

    Worth the price in my opinion for a neat sipper… It is good… damn good.

    But I cant imagine mixing it in anything…

    As I take another sip, this makes me feel as close to being back on the farm, hauling hay… riding my horse… that smell of fall leaves… hay… the smell of leather… the grain feed I used to feed to the horses… it is all there…

    I grew up, moved away… lived the city life since, but I miss it. This drink takes me right back there…

    . . .
    Well, I like Buffalo Trace too… and I was going to compare the two… but this is a moment for loyalty to one whiskey… at least for today…

    I think I will just sit here for an hour, and sip on Garrison Brothers….
    Yall have a good night….


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