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Culture / Foodie Events

A Legendary British Wine & Spirit Merchant Unveils a New Texas Bourbon, But Texans Can’t Have It

BY Matthew Phillips // 10.11.16

A famed London wine and spirit merchant is adding a Texas bourbon to its collection of private label house whiskies. Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd, has debuted a new Texas Legation bourbon, made in partnership with Ironroot Republic distillery in Denison, which launches in the United Kingdom this week.

The Texas Legation name references a unique piece of Texas history — in 1842 the Republic of Texas set up a diplomatic presence in the United Kingdom (the Court of St James), which was located above the famed Berry Bros. & Rudd’s wine and spirits shop at No 3 St. James Street in London, near St James’s Palace and in the heart of London Clubland.

While Ironroot Republic distillery was founded in 2013, royal warrant holders Berry Bros. & Rudd was founded in 1698 and has a collection of private label whiskies and rums that they have blended to satisfy their loyal customers with notoriously discerning palettes. They have occupied the same location in London since 1730, where the giant scales originally used to weigh coffee are still on view. The scales were large enough to weigh customers, and documented early customer Lord Byron (yes, that Lord Byron), who according the the shop’s history records, “first weighed at the age of 17 ‘in boots but no hat’ he came in at a splendid 13 stone 12 (194 pounds), quite an achievement for a chap at 5’8.”

While we have not had a chance to sample the whiskey, according to Barry Bros. & Rudd: “This young, bold bourbon has enticing aromas of vanilla, honey, toffee, bananas and fresh bread. To taste, it’s lively and succulent, with flavours of red apples and toffee, rich molasses and a twist of black pepper. Luscious, lingering and moreish.”

Ironroot brothers Jonathan and Robert Likarish distilled the spirit in Texas and it was blended by Douglas McIvor of Barry Bros & Rudd in London. Likarish says, “Being completely frank, when we were first contacted by Berry Bros. & Rudd about a possible project with a Texas Whiskey Distiller, we did have to question the authenticity of the query. It seemed almost too good to be true as one of the whiskies that inspired my brother and me on our journey is Berry Bros. & Rudd’s very own Speyside whisky — The Glenrothes.”

Unfortunately, the Texas Legation Bourbon is only available to UK customers and the brand has no plans to make it available in Texas. It is listed at the Berry Brothers & Rudd site for £49.85 pounds (approximately $62 U.S.). We have found select Berry Bros. & Rudd spirits in the past at Total Wine, so we’re hoping for the chance that we could see this whiskey back in the Republic soon.

Editor’s Note: It’s a common misconception that bourbon must be made in Kentucky. According to United States law, bourbon can be made anywhere in the U.S., but must be distilled from a grain mixture (“mash bill” in industry parlance) that is 51 percent corn, and aged in new charred oak barrels.

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