“At its core, gin is simply a neutral spirit that has been flavored with a specific recipe of botanicals.”
By Jessica Dupuy
Published Jun 23, 2021
The Hill Country is awash with natural flavor. Native pecan trees, rustic lavender, ashe juniper trees—the landscape is replete with botanical inspiration. For spirits entrepreneur Daniel Barnes, the CEO and founder of Treaty Oak Distilling, those Texan ingredients add up to gin. In 2012, Treaty Oak launched the Waterloo No. 9 Gin, the first Texas gin on the market. At the time, people thought the idea of Texas gin was a bit odd, Barnes recalls. But he had a clear vision for the future of spirits in the state. “From the beginning, we wanted to highlight our specific corner of the world,” he says. “Gin was important to us, because it allowed us to show a sense of place using what grows naturally here.”
Waterloo is no longer alone in the Texas gin market. Today, the category has expanded to include more than seventy producers across the state, and bartenders are beginning to stock up on locally produced gin. The state’s offerings include everything from elegant sipping gins to spicy cocktail bases. Nearly a decade after Waterloo first launched, Texas has upped its gin game.
At its core, gin is simply a neutral spirit that has been flavored with a specific recipe of botanicals (herbs, roots, and citrus). By definition, juniper berries must be a part of that recipe—they give gin its defining flavor. To create the unique flavor of an individual brand of gin, producers elaborate on the base recipe with botanicals such as angelica root, coriander, orris root, and rose hips. Some Texas producers, like Treaty Oak, Houston’s Fox & Seeker, and WildJune, make a point to use Texas-grown ingredients like citrus, lavender, rosemary, and red juniper in their recipes.
Credit: Texas Monthly