There are a couple places you think of when you hear the word “whiskey”. Some people immediately think of Scotland, others Kentucky. And while my own home state of Texas might not have played a huge part in the history of whiskey so far, that seems to be changing — distilleries are popping up all around the state, and now a new book from Nico Martini seeks to shine some light on this region.
As he notes in the book, if you’re looking for a comprehensive history of Texas whiskey you should probably “check back in about ten years.” Whiskey production is a very new concept in the Lone Star State, pioneered by the Garrison Brothers distillery with their first release of Texas produced spirits in 2010. Despite that short time frame, though, there’s still more than enough to fill a book. As Martini points out, this is a massive state with multiple different micro climates — all of which have an impact on the final product.
Instead of a tome on the rich and deep history of Texas whiskey — since, as mentioned, this doesn’t fully exist yet — Martini takes a different approach. The book is less about the destination and more about the journey, filled with incredible images of Texas whiskey, its distilleries, and the land that created it. It really does a great job setting the mood as Martini goes through countless Texas distilleries, providing background on each one and talking in detail about their products. Sprinkled in there like marshmallows in a breakfast cereal are also some cocktail recipes to try with the various spirits he highlights.
As someone who writes about whiskey in general — frequently, Texas whiskey — this book is an amazing resource filled with well researched information about every distillery in the state. It brings you the story of dozens of entrepreneurs and risk takers who are striving to create their personal visions for what Texas whiskey should be, and the people (like the Texas Whiskey Association) who are working to keep that magic alive as more and more commercial operations start springing up.
The only problem I have with the book is the same one the book itself calls out: Texas whiskey is a rapidly moving and changing beast, in which there hasn’t been nearly enough time for it to settle down. In the coming years, some of the distilleries mentioned in this book will close, new ones will open, and the spirits listed in the book will be replaced with new batches and new expressions. The information in here was valid exactly once — and the longer it sits on the shelves, the further reality drifts from this slice of time.
But that’s also the perfect reason to grab a copy — we’re living in interesting times. Between a worldwide pandemic and a quickly changing landscape for distillers, this book perfectly captures this incredibly interesting moment in time and puts it on the page with some amazing images. For anyone who is interested in the subject, or just wants a time capsule of Texas whiskey at this moment, this is a great book to put on the shelves.
Texas Whiskey: A Rich History of Distilling Whiskey in the Lone Star State
Hardcover — 512 Pages — Cider Mill Press
List Price: $35
Overall Rating: 5 / 5
For lovers, of Texas, or Whiskey, or both, this is a well written and beautiful trip through the state.