It will take four years to age first batch of straight bourbon whiskey to be produced by new distillery

Crews haul in load after load of foundation dirt as they prepare the area for a large pad of concrete. Work is a little behind schedule; however, crews are working to get construction of the town’s first distillery built downtown.

BEEVILLE – Lovers of a good whiskey made with locally grown grain will be glad to see the new distillery building completed at 201 N. Madison St.

But its completion will not mean customers can start enjoying the local libation immediately.

Lindsay Horton, director of marketing for the Coastal Bend Distilling Company, said last Monday afternoon that it will be at least four years before the company can release its first batch of homemade bourbon for the public to consume.

Bourbon is the ultimate goal for the distillery. It’s only natural that the  Coastal Bend Distillery would want to specialize in a totally American whiskey.

To qualify as a true American bourbon, the mash used in creating the alcohol must be made of at least 51 percent corn.

That is where the South Texas farmers will fit into the process.

Horton said those vast corn fields in the Coastal Bend will become the source of most of the grain to be used in creating the bourbon the distillery will produce.

However, bourbon has to age at least four years after it has been distilled from the mash.

The company will age the bourbon using the traditional method for straight bourbon whiskey – by storing it in charred oak barrels.

That is how a good bourbon develops its color and taste.

The distillery will begin producing other types of alcoholic beverages sooner. Horton said plans are to make vodka and gin immediately available and also to begin making white and brown rum as soon as the operation can begin.

Again, the company plans to use products grown in South Texas for its other liquors. That will include using sugar cane and lemons grown in the Rio Grande Valley.

Horton said the company is even looking into using the juice of local prickly pear cactus as a mixer.

The company hosted a recent “branding party” during which they surveyed the results of some of their ideas.

Horton said the results of that event will be released soon, and the company will probably reveal a new logo and product name.

Also, the company plans to begin making a blended whiskey available in the first year of operation.

Horton explained that the distillery building will be designed using a mix of the cool metal of the distilling equipment and the warmth of decor by reflecting on the rustic atmosphere of the Grant Building.

The Grant Building is the former lumber company structure that is located on the property south of where the distillery building will be located.

“We want Beeville to have attractions to bring in visitors,” Horton said.

The distillery, its facilities and events are expected to contribute to that goal.

One important development in the distillery operation will be that the company will create jobs for local residents.

Currently, three persons make up the staff of the company. They include Horton, Travis Arreaga, operations manager, and Robert Nollen II, bar and entertainment manager.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.

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