Blackland Distillery’s Long-Awaited Flagship Bourbon Finally Arrives in Fort Worth

Plus, Cowtown Gets a New Tequila Brand

BY // 04.27.23

Blackland Distillery, located in the Foundry District, is set to launch its highly anticipated flagship bourbon, Prairie Gold Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey on Thursday, May 4. Also this spring, a new tequila brand with Fort Worth roots debuts, but more on that later.

Blackland’s founder Markus Kypreos took a few twists and turns to find his true calling as a distiller. He was first a lawyer, then a chef before his passion for distilling really kicked in. Blackland Distillery first opened its doors to the public in March 2019. It became one of the first high-tech distilleries in Texas, producing five signature spirits: Blackland gin, vodka, rye whiskey, bourbon, and its fan-favorite Texas pecan brown sugar bourbon ― whose popularity even took Kypreos by surprise.

Since its arrival on the scene, Blackland Distillery has expanded its Foundry District footprint, its offerings, and its reach to surrounding states. When the distillery first arrived on the scene, Kypreos promised to make good on one of the brand’s long-range goals ― producing and aged bourbon. But, that takes a lot of trial and error followed by aging the bourbon for a minimum of three years in new American oak barrels.

The resulting Prairie Gold was cooked, fermented, and distilled on-site using 100 percent Texas grains sourced from Texas farmers. Its recipe is a blend of 80 percent yellow corn and 20 percent triticale ― a wheat and rye hybrid. That’s when the real patience and longing come into play, as it sits and soaks for three long years before you really know what you have.

Blackland – Prarie Gold straight whiskey
Prairie Gold straight whiskey has been part of Markus Kypreos’ vision from the start.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this moment,” Markus Kypreos says in a release.

“I’m proud to say Prairie Gold is unlike anything else on the market. Like everything we do here at Blackland, it was important for us to elevate the quality and expectation surrounding Texas straight bourbon. The passion, patience, and painstaking attention to detail that went into the making of this spirit is evident in every sip.”

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Before hitting liquor store shelves, packaged inside those tell-tale sculpturally grooved, light-catching bottles, bourbon drinkers can score a bottle of Prarie Gold for $100. They’ll be available on presale exclusively in Blackland’s cocktail lounge and tasting room starting May 4.

The 100-proof spirit is described as “bold and complex in its flavor yet subtle and smooth in its finish.”

La Pulga Tequila Launches in Cowtown

You can’t produce tequila in Texas. To be a true tequila the spirit has to hail from Jalisco, Mexico (or a few other adjoining regions that qualify) and must be made from their native blue agave. But, for the first time, three Fort Worth-based entrepreneurs are joining forces to launch their own tequila brand ― rooted in Cowtown mystique. Named La Pulga Tequila, honoring one of the oldest open-air flea markets in the county ― the La Pulga market on University Drive.

La Pulga Tequila is an artisanal, additive-free, 100-percent Webber blue agave tequila, and though I’ve only sampled the Blanco so far ― it is fresh and smooth without that head-shaking burn common in many mass-produced brands.

Founded by Sarah Castillo, who owns the likes of Taco Heads, Tinies Mexican Cuisine (which she opened in South Main in 2020), and Sidesaddle Saloon in The Stockyards; along with Andrew De La Torre, club owner and the operator of Pequeño Mexico; and Stephen Slaughter who is a local entrepreneur and real estate developer. The trio added Ale Ochoa, as the company’s head of spirits. Ochao was formerly a whiskey scientist and master blender at another hometown distillery ―  Ft. Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. (makers of TX Whiskey).

Fort Worth was offered its first taste of the new spirit at the recent Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival. A VIP launch party is set for Friday, April 28.

When I joked with Sarah Castillo that I thought only movie stars and professional athletes could warrant their own tequila brand these days, she quickly responded, “Trying to change that!”

La Pulga Spirits – brings additive-free tequila to town.
La Pulga Spirits brings additive-free tequila to town.

“La Pulga Tequila is crafted in Mexico, but the idea and the genesis of this brand is firmly rooted right here in the city we’re proud to call home,” Sarah Castillo added in a statement.

La Pulga Tequila Blanco is an unaged silver tequila. They say the 80-proof Blanco is “characterized by its floral aroma and taste notes of cooked agave, grapefruit, anise, and honey; and La Pulga Tequila Reposado…is aged for seven months in ex-bourbon barrels to impart flavors of agave, burnt sugar, licorice, honey, and black pepper.”

For tequila snobs ― both bottles went through a verification process to be designated “confirmed additive-free” by Tequila Matchmaker, ensuring that no ingredients were added to the tequila to alter or enhance its taste, smell, or color (which unfortunately remains a very common practice in the industry).

La Pulga Tequila Blanco with the Mexican folk art character “El Bronco” rearing up on its label sells for $44.99, and La Pulga Tequila Reposado with its charging “El Toro” on the label goes for $54.99 on the website and it’s also available at select retailers. You’ll begin to see it on the menu at a growing list of DFW restaurants and bars.

Look for additional La Pulga expressions to be released soon.

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