On 10 October 2016, Berry Bros. & Rudd held a launch event for Texas Legation, an interesting new whisky, at their spectacular building on 3 St. James’ Street. The distillate for Texas Legation was produced and aged by Robert and Jonathan Likarish, who opened IronRoot republic distillery in Texas in 2013, with blending duties being taken on by Berry Bros. ‘nose’ Doug McIvor.
Truth be told, a 12 month aged, 92 proof whisky with a 95% corn / 5% rye mash bill didn’t sound particularly exciting on paper but we were all pleasantly surprised by what was in the glass. As Robert and Jonathan Likarish explained, two factors helped add complexity and depth to the palate of Texas Legation. The first is the extreme summer temperatures in Texas, which ensure that whiskies age faster than in Kentucky. The second is the use of purple, red and yellow corn in the mash bill, rather than yellow corn alone.
Having been impressed by Texas Legation, we moved on to cask strength samples from the Likarish brothers’ US only whisky releases. The 2016 Hubris Vintage was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the standout having won best corn whisky earlier in the year at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It bore a familial resemblance to Texas Legation but with an amplified palate and finish (no doubt assisted by being served at cask strength).
In short, Texas Legation and IronRoot Republic whiskies are worth seeking out in a bar. Failing that, the British Bourbon Society will try to organise a side-by-side tasting with one of Balcones’ Texas Blue Corn whiskies in the coming months. Watch this space.
Finally, there’s an interesting historical footnote to the Texas Legation collaboration between IronRoot Republic and Berry Bros. Back in 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico and quickly moved to develop international ties. Texan diplomatic representatives were sent to the UK to open the ‘Texas Legation’. This was located above Berry Bros. shop from 1842 until 1845 when it was shut down following Texas’ decision to join the United States of America. Over 170 years later, we were drinking a Texas whisky on the very same spot.