Some Texas whiskeys like to let the spirit speak for itself. Others take a bit more of a stylistic approach. Firestone & Robertson certainly has style – in fact, they seem dedicated to draping their whiskey bottles in all the trappings of the state of Texas (if they could sell it in a ten gallon cowboy hat, I think they would). Today we’re looking at their Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey: an expression born and raised in the state and certified by the Texas Whiskey Association as being a true Texas whiskey.
Located in an abandoned prohibition-era warehouse just south of Fort Worth, Texas, the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. was founded by Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson. The two friends discovered a mutual love of whiskey while at play dates with their respective children and decided to join forces to open a distillery in north Texas.
The business was purchased in late 2019 by the French alcoholic beverage giant Pernod Ricard.
This whiskey starts out life as a blend of corn, wheat, and malted barley. The specific proportions are kept confidential; however, as a straight bourbon we can assume that at least 51% of the contents comes from that corn. Once the grains are sourced, they are cooked and fermented using a proprietary strain of yeast they isolated from a Texas pecan. From there, they are added to the distillery’s large pot still for distillation.
Once the white whiskey has been captured, it is placed into charred new oak barrels for a period of at least 4 years, but the exact timeline is not disclosed.
The bottle has a good shape. It’s a pretty common but solid design, with a slightly outwardly tapered slope from the base to the shoulder, a quickly rounded shoulder, and then a short neck. What makes this a little bit different is that the base is flared out as well, almost as if the bottle comes with its own pedestal.
The bottle is capped with a leather-topped stopper, which is interesting. The material on the outside edges is ornately engraved, and the leather used for the top of the stopper reportedly comes from old Texas cowboy boots.
I’ve reviewed the blended version before, and in that design there’s a canvas wrap around the neck of the bottle that tends to get in the way of pouring the whiskey. In this case, the wrap is made from leather and, as a result, stays politely out of the way of the stream of liquor. This is an absolute improvement compared to their canvas version.
There’s something a more than just the usual standard bourbon notes going on here. As soon as you pour yourself a glass, there’s the immediate hit of caramel and vanilla which is spot on for a good bourbon… but it’s a little deeper and richer than usual — it almost makes me think of a sweet Texas pecan pie. It’s entirely possible that this is entirely in my mind, but I feel like the pecan-based yeast they used had an impact on the flavors. I’m also getting some fruity aromas going on, a bit of banana and maybe some apple as well.
Taking a sip, there’s a good saturation of the flavors here. The usual caramel and vanilla notes are very present along with just a hint of raw corn, and there are also some good baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in. A little bit of black pepper kicks in and lingers on the finish, which makes me think that there’s probably a bit of rye grain in that original mix alongside the corn. Overall, it finishes as smoothly as it started.
Given that there’s a good bit of saturation in the flavors here, I didn’t expect that the flavor profile would change dramatically with added ice. Lesser, weaker bourbons can be destroyed by a bit of ice, but Texas whiskey tends to be a bit heartier and more resilient.
Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case here. Pretty much all of the corn-related flavors are gone and the caramel and vanilla are down to a wisp of their former selves, leaving behind just a hint of the baking spices and a ton of raw grain alcohol.
It’s not great. Do not advise drinking this on the rocks.
Thanks to the addition of the ice there really isn’t much flavor here to balance the bitters. The remaining caramel and vanilla flavors are making a valiant effort, but the angostura bitters are just running away with the show. Even the black pepper spice seems to have gone home for the evening.
It’s not patently offensive — and with a good bit of sugar, it might be a salvageable thing to at least sip on (if not outright enjoy). But this definitely isn’t the format that best displays the attributes of this whiskey.
I realize that I ask a lot from a whiskey when it comes to its performance in a mule. But that’s the reason I picked a mule for this testing: it’s a tough challenge that not every whiskey can survive.
In this case, the spirit doesn’t make the cut. Again, the ice in the cocktail has diminished the flavor of the spirit too much, and not enough remains to combat the ginger beer. There is some good news, though: some of that caramel and vanilla that remains does mix well with the bright and cheery ginger beer. There might be a lack of flavor here, but at least it’s not an overstimulating clash of flavors. But, still, there’s no depth to the cocktail and there’s nothing truly unique about it.
This is honestly a bit disappointing. With a Texas bourbon, the usual expectation is for punched-up flavor and deep rich tones as a result of the region’s wild temperature swings. The unfortunate reality here, though, seems to be that the flavor was just surface deep and a bit of ice almost literally breaks this whiskey.
That said, the surface deep flavor is actually really good. Taken neat, this is an impressive, highly drinkable bourbon… just don’t try it on ice or in any other cocktail.
|Firestone & Robertson TX Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey|
Produced By: Firestone & RobertsonProduction Location: Texas, United States
Classification: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Special Type: Certified Texas Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $29 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 2/5
Much like our state in general, this does not do well with exposure to ice.