Austin, Texas, has long been a favorite getaway for many Angelenos. But now there’s another Lone Star State destination that’s attracting an LA audience: Hye, located just 90 minutes outside of Austin. The rural community has become a mecca for bourbon aficionados seeking an up close and personal experience with one of Texas’ increasingly well-known exports.
Since entering the California market two years ago, Garrison Brothers Distillery (garrisonbros.com) has quickly earned a West Coast following for its high-quality bourbon made from locally sourced ingredients. Each bottle is handcrafted at the company’s Hye distillery, which is open to visitors throughout the year.
The scenic Hill Country backdrop sets the stage as guests roll into the 76-acre working ranch. Knowledgeable Garrison Brothers tour guides take groups through each step of the bourbon-making process, from tasting the sweet corn mash and white dog (unaged, raw whiskey) to observing the handstamped final touch that’s placed on every bottle. For those looking to take the level of personalization even further, the distillery hosts Single Barrel Selection events (from $5,500 per barrel), where up to 50 guests reserve their own barrel up to six months in advance, then have a name plate added to the barrel yield—which, depending on the proof, ranges from 45 to 90 bottles.
Another enticing opportunity for out-of-towners is the chance to get in on the action themselves. “Ninety-nine percent of Garrison Brothers bourbon is bottled by volunteers,” explains founder Dan Garrison. “They give up two days to help us out. They get to do everything from washing the bottles to filling them, dipping them in wax and putting them in the cartons.” Volunteers are treated to a gourmet breakfast and lunch prepared by the distillery’s chef, as well as regular “bourbon quality control tests”—in other words, they don’t miss out on any of the fun.
The numbers speak for themselves: Garrison Brothers’ volunteer list is currently at a whopping 16,000—and counting. The main appeal? “It’s not just work,” says Garrison. “It’s a party.”