Disclosure: I was invited to a complimentary tour and tasting at Still Austin. All opinions are my own.
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I was lucky to be invited to visit Still Austin for a tasting and tour recently. This distillery has been open in Austin for about two years and I hadn’t been. Spoiler alert: I had an excellent experience and am excited to tell you more about Still Austin, so keep reading!
Distilleries are a booming industry in Texas. In 2008, there were fewer than 10 distilleries in the state, and today, there are over 130, quickly catching up to the number of wineries and breweries! There are about 20 distilleries in the Austin area, though Still Austin is the only one in city limits. Located in South Austin, the spacious and bright distillery is in a hip mixed development area called The Yard.
Still Austin – Texas Grain-to-Glass
The distillery might have started by coincidence, but since then, calculated steps have grown the company to its recognition and popularity.
In 2013, six people, each pair a stranger to the others, attended a brewing class in Seattle. As they got to talking, they realized they were all from Austin and passionately curious about progressing in the craft and sharing it with the world. After years of planning, Still Austin opened its distillery in 2017 and recently celebrated its two-year anniversary.
One way to describe Still Austin is Texas grain-to-glass. In the midst of my year-long farm-to-table challenge where I’ve been learning so much about local food and makers, it’s exciting to see how Still Austin takes Texas-grown grain and turns it into whiskey and gin. They are in control of every step, from inspecting the farmer’s grain to tasting the barrel, to make sure their product fulfills their perfectionist detail. (They also give the spent grain back to farmers for food and fertilizer.) Their whiskey and gin are Texas born.
They’ve also gathered an excellent team who contribute their expertise. From perfecting the taste of the whiskey to drawing the chalkboard signs displayed in the distillery, their team comes together to provide the perfect branding and tasting experience. Still Austin illustrates the common theme of the things I share on my blog – passionate people making things happen for the fun of it, and luckily, they are finding success from their time and effort.
Still Austin Tour and Tasting
Did you know whiskey starts as beer? That liquid is then distilled (vaporized) multiple times to become whiskey. Then, the whiskey is put into barrels for aging. You can drink whiskey before aging – see Still Austin’s New Make Whiskey – and the color deepens the longer it is aged. Check out this display in the distillery to see how the color changes the more months it ages.
For those of you not familiar with whiskey, here are some quick facts:
- Scotch and bourbon are both types of whiskey. Most scotch is made in Scotland while bourbon can be made anywhere. But, the spelling differs. Scotch and Canadian are whisky (without the “e”) while whiskey (with the “e”) is Irish and American.
- Whiskey is typically aged in barrels. Angel share is the term used for the percentage of whiskey that evaporates from the barrels. Because of the Texas climate, it’s about 10% at Still Austin.
- Some say moderate whiskey consumption has health benefits and can prevent cancer, stroke, heart disease, and dementia.
Gin is made in the same way as whiskey but ingredients like botanicals are used in the distilling process and the result is not aged. With all the equipment on the ready, Still Austin began making gin and now has a Texas Rye Gin on the shelf. Because gin doesn’t need to be aged, it’s a shorter process to turn over a profit. Their gin is complex and refreshing.
Josh was our self-described “whiskey nerd” tour guide and he shared so much about the distillery and distilling. From the silos and custom-made 42-foot column to the barrels, we got an inside look at how the magic happens. Here’s a video of Josh with a look behind the distillery.
In the tasting portion of our tour, we tried their liquor straight and talked about the notes and process. I don’t have a refined palate (yet) but I enjoyed learning about the ingredients and tasting the base of what would make some delicious cocktails. One thing I could decipher was how smooth and drinkable the liquors were.
For those familiar with whiskey, you’ll enjoy the new Sherry Cask Whiskey or their Hye Rye Bourbon Whiskey. The Mother Pepper Whiskey has some heat (spice) to it and the Daydreamer is perfect for summer sipping. If you’re interested in a tour and tasting, they’re available Wednesday through Sunday. The hour-long tour costs $15 and includes the tasting.
Their bartenders are ready to mix up some cocktails with their liquors. There’s plenty of seating in their spacious tasting room and they also have a big patio. You’ll also find their food truck Pairings on their patio, serving a mix of cuisines.
Follow the Texas Whiskey Trail
With a young industry like this, it’s important to look for unique ways to market to the public and partner with other distilleries. The Texas Whiskey Trail gives whiskey enthusiasts the opportunity to support the local market while getting exclusive perks.
Three levels of membership, including a free level, provide members news and access to 15 Texas distilleries. There are eight in the Hill Country Region (Austin-San Antonio area), five in the North Texas Region (Dallas area), and two in the Gulf Coast Region (Houston area). If you love whiskey and want to support Texas whiskey, joining as a member is the best way to learn more.
I never stop being amazed at the passion and ambition of makers in Austin. We’re lucky to live in a city driven by new ideas and doing cool stuff. Still Austin embodies that entrepreneur spirit. They’re people obsessed with the art and science of creating a product to perfection. With all the change that comes through our city, Still Austin’s name reminds us that who we are – the passion, innovation, and ambition – will continue to drive us despite the challenges.
Still Austin has come a long way since they’ve opened and what I experienced is much different than I expected. What they’re producing is worthy of a space on your bar cart and if it’s been a while since you’ve visited, I encourage you to give them another taste.
If you’re looking for something different to see and drink in Austin, stop by Still Austin.
Plan your visit!
440 E St Elmo Rd Unit F, Austin, TX 78745
Tasting Room Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00pm – 8:00pm
Social Links: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
See all info on their website: https://stillaustin.com/
What’s your favorite spirits brand?