Home Grown (Whiskey) Heroes

Firestone & Roberston Distilling Co. is taking craft whiskey to the next level, creating award-winning blends full of Texas spirit.

Mark Twain, the famed classic American novelist, once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” For words spoken over 100 years ago, the statement rings true today, especially with the rising popularity of artisanal spirits and the stories of the people who make them.

On an unassuming road in Fort Worth, Texas, in a pre-prohibition era warehouse, sits one of the state’s fastest-growing craft whiskey brands, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. The artisanal distillery creates the beloved TX Blended Whiskey, and has recently released their TX Straight Bourbon whiskey. A Texas staple, the TX Whiskey brand has amassed a loyal fan following, and is on track to gain notoriety nationwide with plans for rapid growth, courtesy of the masterminds behind the company, Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson.

With a shared passion for all things whiskey – its history, people, science, satisfaction of sharing it with friends, and more – Firestone and Robertson shared a vision of creating a uniquely Texas expression of classic whiskies. It would take a happenchance meeting for the duo to recognize their common dream, and a leap of faith to leave their corporate jobs and start North Texas’ first artisanal whiskey distillery.

A third-generation Texan, Troy Robertson began his career in oil and gas. He studied business at Texas Tech University, and went on to spend ten years in finance for the energy industry. Despite experiencing success in his field, Robertson had a distinct yearning to build a brand and product with his hands. “I always felt more at home in jeans and boots than in a suit and cap-toed shoes,” he says.

During his finance career, Robertson developed a keen appreciation for whiskey, and began sampling various styles. Over time, a few micro-distilleries crossed his path, and his excitement for building a whiskey distillery in Fort Worth was ignited.

Meanwhile, Firestone’s passion for craft whiskey was waiting to be unearthed. With a father who owns an award-winning east coast “culinary tavern,” and having fond childhood memories harvesting grapes at his uncle’s California vineyard, Firestone supposes he was destined for the food and beverage world. “It just took me a while to realize it,” he says.

Firestone studied political science at the University of Colorado, and went on to operate a communications company with his brothers, which brought him to Fort Worth in 2002. He immediately fell in love with the city and its people, and it was while building his business that he fell in love with the idea of being a craft distiller. “A friend introduced me to a new vodka brand…I found the product unique and incredibly good, and was astonished to discover it was handcrafted by a local distiller,” Firestone recalls. He began exploring the craft distilling industry and says, “I felt like I’d found my calling.” The brothers sold the communications company in 2007 at a time when Firestone’s interest in craft spirits had escalated from a slight curiosity to full-blown obsession.

Fast-forward a few years; Firestone and Robertson were friends because they had children the same age. Unaware of each other’s clandestine goals, both men made independent plans to visit a craft distillery to learn more about the trade. Robertson went first, and was told by the distillery owner that “another Fort Worth guy” would be visiting the following week. Robertson was shocked to discover that “guy” would be his friend, Leonard Firestone.

I hear you want to get into the whiskey business,” Robertson later told Firestone.

The duo discussed their goals and found that, given their experience, mania for craftsmanship and shared passion for creating a truly-Texas whiskey, they had in their arsenal all they needed to transform their dreams into a reality. The pair found a building in Fort Worth, renovated it, added brand new, custom- built copper stills, and founded Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. in 2010.

The rest, as they say, is history.

2011 saw the addition of head distiller, Rob Arnold, a Kentucky native who brought with him strong family ties in the bourbon industry and a shared desire to craft a Texas whiskey. A scientific mind, Arnold held a degree in microbiology from the University of Tennessee, and was pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical School, when he became aware of Fires- tone and Robertson’s endeavors. The team was in search of a head distiller, and Arnold left school early with a master’s degree to join their team.

Immediately, the group recognized that their position as craft distillers afforded them an opportunity to innovate…and innovate they did.

The team’s initial venture saw the creation of the award-winning TX Blended Whiskey. Believing most American whiskeys lacked a complexity and character found in esteemed blends from other regions, they set out to create a spirit that would rival the best. The proprietary spirit’s fragrance and flavors are enjoyable neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. It features a rich auburn color, a vanilla bean, oak and pear nose with honey, butter, banana, caramel and coffee on the palate. The finish is long, smooth and slightly sweet, making it a sophisticated, yet approachable and overall unique offering.

Still committed to crafting a truly Texas spirit, the team forged on and barreled the first ever North Texas bourbon whiskey on March 14, 2012. From experimenting with different yeasts and settling on a strain captured from a Texas pecan tree, to utilizing Texas corn, wheat and water, the team is proud to announce the anticipated release of it’s TX Straight Bourbon, which had been aging for nearly five years.

The distillery is now a hotbed for the evolution of whiskey. The company is committed to fostering the next generation of talent and ushering in a new era of whiskey making while offering truly exceptional spirits.

The team is proud to showcase their products and are sure whiskey connoisseurs will believe too much of the TX Blended Whiskey and TX Straight Bourbon will barely be enough.

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