The area west of Oak Hill out to Dripping Springs, Texas, is quickly becoming a booze barrio. The neighborhood is home to Revolution Spirits, the soon-to-open Deep Eddy vodka distillery and a new Treaty Oak Distilling facility that is under construction. San Luis Spirits, the maker of the Dripping Springs vodka, has just added a new tasting bar and is offering distillery tours.
The distillery, located 25 miles west of Austin, has opened its doors to show off a micro-distilling process using gleaming 50 gallon copper stills. It’s quite a sight to see how they turn corn grown in the Midwest into vodka. As an added bonus, after the guided visit, guests can taste the finished goods at the newly installed bar. And, hey, you get to keep a branded shot glass too.
Tours are available each week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1 pm and 3 pm for $10 with a reservation. The tasting bar also sells full-size bottles of Dripping Springs spirits and other swag.
That’s not the only trick up the distillery’s sleeve. San Luis Spirits is expanding its lineup of spirits to include Dripping Springs gin, officially released earlier this month.
This isn’t San Luis Spirits’ first go at making gin. In the summer of 2011, they partnered with Don Short, former Coca-Cola executive, and Robert Del Grande, James Beard Award-winning chef, to create Roxor gin.
Unfortunately that product was shelved because of a TABC law that precluded contract distilling. That law has since changed, but it’s too late for Roxor. The good news is the venture helped them learn a lot about making gin.
“The recipe for Dripping Springs gin is quite different from Roxor,” said Kevin Kelleher, co-owner of San Luis Spirits. “When Roxor ended, we agreed not to do another gin like it. It had 12 different botanicals, and Dripping Springs has nine.
“We decided to go after four primary notes and do the best job that we can. Our gin has a focus on juniper, but we backed off on traditional, juniper-forward London Dry style. We use hibiscus for a floral scent, cardamom for spice, and Texas oranges and limes from Mexico to get a bright citrus flavor.
“We finish it with the artesian spring water with a lot of minerality that cuts the hard edges and makes the gin.”
Dripping Springs gin is made by steeping the botanicals in Dripping Springs vodka for 24 hours at 120 proof and then distilling it again. Four of the distillery’s 15 stills are used to make 40-gallon batches for very limited production.
Each botanical has different “gravities,” which causes them to distil at different rates. Dripping Springs has worked to ensure it captures the ideal flow from the heart distillation to get the essence of each botanical without overcooking them. The gin then gets a light filtration to remove some of the oil that might make it cloudy.
The finished product is soft, smooth and flavorful. You can buy it locally at Spec’s and Goody Goody.