Austin and the beautiful nearby Texas Hill Country are home to a spirited number of distilleries that are destinations in themselves. Stop in for a pour at the local city spots or make a day trip out of town.
Still Austin Mixed Drink. Credit Danielle Chloe Potts.
Still Austin Whiskey Co. holds the distinction of being the first whiskey distillery located within Austin city limits since Prohibition. A true grain-to-glass distillery, everything is done in-house, from mashing to barreling and bottling. Take a 30-minute tour to see how Still Austin’s whiskey is made, then enjoy it straight up or in a cocktail best sipped in the whiskey garden. Pair it with an Asian-inspired bite from Puli-Ra, Still’s permanent food truck.
Revolution Spirits is an experimental craft distillery that produces small batches of gin and liqueurs in Austin. Revolution’s signature is the contemporary, American-style Austin Reserve Gin, made with juniper, lemongrass and Texas grapefruit. It also produces liqueurs that include the Cafecito, blended with cuvee coffee. Complimentary tastings and tours are held on Saturdays, and a full-service tasting room is in the works.
Ben Milam Bourbon and Rye. Credit Brooke Taelor Photography.
Ben Milam Whiskey is named for a larger-than-life Texas freedom fighter who was born in Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon whiskey. Stop in at the distillery tasting room, located in the picturesque small town of Blanco that’s known for the spring-fed Blanco River that runs through the center of the community. Sample Ben Milam’s hallmark Single Barrel Bourbon that’s just made for sipping, and was a Double Gold winner at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Genius Gin focuses on making this solitary spirit in two versions: Standard Strength (a homage to the classic London Dry variety) and Navy Strength (a sip-worthy version inspired by the historical proof carried on British Royal Navy fleets). Tours are offered by appointment only, where knowledgeable distillers explain the history of gin and offer tastings.
Dripping Springs Vodka. Credit April Totten.
Dripping Springs Vodka and Gin, found in Dripping Springs, produces its spirits in handmade copper pot stills. Brothers Gary and Kevin Kelleher founded the San Luis Spirits distillery, where they produce small 50-gallon batches of Dripping Springs vodka and gin using pure Hill Country Artesian spring water. Tours are held Thursday through Saturday afternoons, and include a distillery tour, tastings and a souvenir shot glass.
Also found in Dripping Springs, Treaty Oak Distilling is named for the 500-year-old oak tree in Austin that was the site where Stephen F. Austin (known as the "Father of Texas") signed a border agreement in the 1830s. Treaty Oak produces a number of spirits, including vodka (try the sweet Graham’s Texas Tea version), gin, rum and bourbon, on its 28-acre, state-of-the-art distillery/ranch. Head out on the weekend to enjoy tastings and tours, live music, yard games and a gourmet bite from the on-site Ghost Hill Restaurant.
Barrel barn at Garrison Brothers Distillery. Courtesy of Garrison Brothers.
Garrison Brothers Distillery in scenic Hye is the Lone Star State’s first and oldest whiskey distillery. Located on a small ranch, Garrison produces Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey made with its own organic winter wheat that’s grown and ground daily on site, along with plump yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle and fresh Hill Country rainwater. Take the one-hour Sit and Sip tour, which includes a taste of sweet mash and high-proof “white dog” right from the stills, along with samples of Garrison’s latest limited-release whiskey.
Texas Saké Company, which uses centuries-old techniques to brew its saké, is a hidden little gem in the South Lamar neighborhood. The saké is produced in small batches, taking care to find the right balance of bold and crisp flavors. Tastings are held on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you can try saké by the glass or mixed in a cocktail at the Japanese-style bar, and chat with the resident Toji (or master brewer).
Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room. Credit Whit Preston.
Deep Eddy Vodka is a Dripping Springs favorite. Its sprawling 30,000-square-foot distillery includes a fun, retro-feel tasting room where you can sip specialty cocktails or sample flights. Vodka varieties are flavored with fruit that includes cranberry, peach and orange. Red’s Porch food truck is located on site, and both kids and dogs are welcome to come sit a spell and take in the panoramic view of the surrounding Texas Hill Country.