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A Wine Break...for Arizona Bourbon (and Bourbon Dinners)?

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We now interrupt this site’s regularly scheduled wine musings for a story about one of its “spirited” friends – bourbon. Bourbon connected directly to this area, to be exact.

Wait, what?

Am I alone in always being taught Bourbon MUST come from Kentucky?

Well, thanks to fellow greater-Scottsdale resident Charlie Garrison, I have learned the error of my ways.

In 2006, Charlie partnered with his brother Dan to launch Garrison Brothers Distillery, a small distilled spirits plant located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The first legal whiskey distillery in Texas and the only one outside Kentucky and Tennessee to produce authentic bourbon, the small, family-owned business manufactures its spirits straight from the kitchen, still-house and barrel barns on their ranch in Hye, Texas.

“The rise of the micro-distillery, the renaissance of whiskey-based cocktails and Mad Men-esque subliminal marketing have all played a role in helping us ‘put our money where our mash is,’ so to speak,” said Dan Garrison, which recently released 1,200 bottles of its highly acclaimed bourbon whiskey to bars, stores, hotels, resorts and restaurants across Arizona, making it the first state outside of Texas to sell the product. “Bourbon used to be primarily marketed to men – and older men, at that, but the mixology movement and the rise of the craft cocktail have helped expose the spirit to an entirely new, younger demographic that caters to women just as much as men.”

It also helps that the clever brothers have partnered with famed local chefs including Mark Tarbell to host Bourbon cocktail dinners, just as winemakers started partnering with them in recent years to help drive the boom of wine – especially local wine – in the area.

“This is a state that both understands and appreciates the art of the distilling process, and the resort and hospitality lifestyle that is so prevalent here really lends itself well to the revival of bourbon and bourbon-based cocktails,” Dan Garrison said. “There’s a high-end, knowledgeable consumer base in Arizona that appreciates the rigorous standards and by-hand approach that go hand-in-hand with distilling bourbon.”

Right now, Tarbell’s, AJ’s and several Scottsdale resorts are carrying several varietals of the Bourbon in our own backyards. And, now that the Garrison Brothers Bourbon won the Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible’s highest honor in recent months, we are guessing it will be even more readily available by year’s end.

For more information on the Garrison Brothers Bourbon or the winemaker-like Bourbon dinners coming to the Valley, click here.

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