I’m making my way through the Texas whiskies, and one I keep seeing again and again is the Firestone & Robertson TX Blended Whiskey. It’s on just about every shelf, shouting it’s “TX” branding as hard as it can, so I decided to give it a try and see whether the contents can live up to the packaging.
Located in an abandoned prohibition-era warehouse just south of Fort Worth, Texas, the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. was founded by a couple of friends who discovered a mutual love of whiskey while at play dates with their respective children.
Despite bearing the Firestone & Roberts Distilling Co. logo, this whiskey doesn’t actually come from their distillery. According to Distiller.com, the product we’re tasting today is a proprietary (read: “secret”) blend of whiskies from other distilleries that form the taste and texture that F&R prefers. The label “blended whiskey” removes just about every hint we can hope to find about the provenance and process of this liquid.
So, we don’t actually know much about this spirit. What’s the grain bill? How long has it been aged? Is it even actually from Texas? So many questions, so few answers.
We’ve got some problems here.
Despite the fact that we can’t even conclusively say that this spirit was produced in Texas in any way, the bottle literally wraps itself in the trappings of Texas trying to cash in on the local pride.
The rather standard shaped bottle (the large ones have the same shape as this small sampler bottle) has the letters “TX” as the most prominent feature. You’ll need to look reeeeeeally close to even see the name of the company producing this bottle, way down at the bottom in the silver band around the base.
One cool thing I like about the packaging is the cap. Each cap has a cork stopper and actual wooden plug topping it, with the addition of some boot leather that’s attached to the top. It adds a unique feature to the bottle that you don’t get anywhere else, and something that’s definitely Texan.
Another unique touch is the canvas wrapping around the neck of the bottle, but while it looks great, it’s actually pretty damn problematic. I liked the concept, but the placement of the canvas and the lack of a flared lip on the top of the bottle means that when you’re pouring yourself a glass of whiskey it’s almost guaranteed to drip through the canvas wrapping. Whether as a hygiene issue or a purity of product issue, it’s a huge black eye in my book — I really don’t appreciate having my spirit filtered through a dirty rag before reaching my glass when it may have been good in the bottle.
There isn’t much of a biting alcohol aroma here, partially thanks to having a lower alcohol content compared to some of the other craft spirits. Instead what you smell in the glass is sweet vanilla and caramel. There’s also a buttery-ness that I find goes well with the other scents. The closest thing I can compare it to is a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Which is good in my opinion, because I really like those cookies.
While there’s definitely a good bit of caramel in the smell, the flavor is very heavy on the vanilla. Almost oppressively heavy, even. Overall, the taste is relatively smooth, there’s no real surprises here and only a teeny tiny bit of a bite to the finish. The liquid feels very light on the tongue thanks again to that lower alcohol content, not silky smooth and heavy like an after dinner drink but instead more like a whiskey you could enjoy on a hot summer afternoon.
With a little bit of ice the caramel flavor comes back with a vengeance and the spirit finally tastes the way it smells. That overpowering vanilla taste disappears and lets some of the more delicate flavors shine through.
Like we suspected from the smell, the spirit has a very sweet taste with some added ice. If that’s something that you crave in a drink then bully for you, but for me it’s a little too far on the sweet side.
Ice also improves the smoothness of the drink. The slight bitterness on the finish is completely gone, leaving only a smoothness that is very appreciated.
In an Old Fashioned, this is actually really good. The spirit on its own is very sweet and smooth, which is fine. But if you’re looking for a well balanced drink, then the addition of a couple dashes of bitters really helps.
An overly sweet drink is fine for a bit, but I really need a little more depth to my flavor. The orange citrus in the bitters cuts through all that sweet whiskey taste and gives your taste buds something else to contemplate.
This might be the best application of this whiskey.
It’s too sweet.
Ginger beer is supposed to add a bit of sweetness and spice to a spirit. Usually there’s enough of a robust flavor in the base spirit that it balances an otherwise bold drink, but in this case there’s only sweetness and caramel flavors underneath. The ginger beer only makes it sweeter, and the ginger isn’t strong enough to overcome the combined powers of the sugar and the caramel flavors.
It’s basically like I’m drinking an even sweeter than usual ginger beer. There’s nothing else going on here. A waste of spirit.
On it’s own this isn’t a bad spirit, but I really don’t like what’s going on here. There’s nothing here that can back up the bold packaging. Do we know that the contents are from Texas? Nope. How about being bottled in Texas? Not really sure. But the bottle sure does go out of its way to make you think this is a Texan product.
The spirit is fine on its own, it makes a good old fashioned and is fine on ice, but it doesn’t even match the quality and complexity of something like Bulleit Bourbon (our reference spirit). Instead of making something better, they’ve slapped as much “TEXAS” on the packaging as they can and shipped it out the door hoping that people will think this is a Texas product and buy it solely on that basis.
Firestone & Robertson TX Blended Whiskey
Owner: Firestone & Robertson Distilling
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Grain bill: ??
Proof: 41% ABV
Price: $29.98/ 750ml ($0.04 / ml)
Overall Rating: 2/5
All hat and no cattle.