Here’s a resolution that you might actually keep — drink local. Lucky for you, JEM Beverage Co. makes it easy, with three distinct spirits made right here in Carrollton.
The four guys on the JEM Beverage team — Master Distiller Michael Pfeiffer, Evan Batt, John Straits and Ben Jenkins — are all seasoned beverage-industry and marketing pros. They were buddies for years before deciding to partner in this endeavor. Since opening the distillery doors last summer, JEM has released three small-batch spirits in North Texas: Western Son Vodka, Stingray Spiced Rum and, most recently, Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey.
Let’s start with quality. Pfeiffer is committed to producing small-batch spirits that taste good. He uses water cleaned through reverse osmosis and distils the vodka 10 times before it’s bottled. Because he works in 200-gallon batches, he can carefully examine each one for taste, look and smell.
Stingray Spiced Rum is oh-so addictive — not just for drinking but also for baking. We couldn’t resist soaking raisins in Stingray to make Mom’s apple strudel.
He takes as much care with the spiced rum, which is infused with almond, vanilla and cinnamon. The whiskey is aged five years in American oak.
If you like your vodka over ice with a squeeze of lime, Western Son ($17.99, 750 ml bottle) does not disappoint. It can be sipped without that harsh burn and enjoyed without any mixers. Of course, it is a tasty base for your favorite cocktails too.
Stingray ($18.99, 750 ml bottle) is oh-so addictive — not just for drinking but also for baking and cooking. (We couldn’t resist soaking raisins in Stingray to make Mom’s traditional apple strudel.) Taste a culinary infusion for yourself at Dude, Sweet Chocolate, where they use the rum for a rich morsel called Stingray Fudge.
The most recent addition to the JEM spirits lineup is Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey ($34.99, 750 ml bottle). Using Kentucky bourbon, Pfeiffer ages the whiskey in new, charred American oak barrels. Drink Red River with a splash of water to open the bouquet of rich flavors.
One of the perks of drinking local is meeting the people who make the spirits. Look to each liquor’s Facebook page to find news about upcoming in-store tastings. All of the spirits are available at Total Wine & More and Spec’s, and a percentage of revenue from every case sold is donated to the Peter Burks Unsung Hero Fund, which sends “luxuries” to troops overseas, including clean socks, up-to-date magazines and phone cards.