Since there's really no point in doing a face-off of awesome locally-made soda waters, we did the next best thing and rounded up eight locally-made liquors (thanks Myles and Contigo for the amazing service!), took itty bitty* sips of all of them (*lie), wrote down super scientific and coherent tasting notes, and've come up with a definitive list of the best vodka, gin, tequila, and whisky made right here in Austin. Behold:
Initial Impression: "Yup -- that's vodka."
Flavor Notes: "I'm getting 'pennies', but it may just be the copper cap that's throwing me off. And the Lucida Calligraphy bold italic."
Deep thoughts: "The creator of this stuff is named 'Tito Beveridge' -- mind officially blown."
Bonus! They serve it on American Airline flights.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Shiny Pennies
Dripping Springs (technically not in Austin, but close enough)
Initial Impression: "Ooooo, delicate and beautiful, like morning rain -- or an Enya song."
Flavor Notes: "It's soooper light, I mean, the water in Egypt is harder to drink than this vodka."
Deep thoughts: "Did you know the Russian word for 'vodka' is... 'vodka'????'"
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Ears of Non-GMO Corn
This was like choosing between Star Trek or Star Wars. Neither is better (editor's note: Star Wars is better), so it comes down to preference and we just felt that Star Wars tasted better (editor's note: see?). And by "Star Wars", we mean Dripping Springs.
Genius Navy Strength Gin
Initial Impression: "The bottle looks pretty sexy."
Flavor Notes: "This has a Barton Springs-ish flavor to it, like salamanders or turtles."
Bummer: "I really wanted to love this one. Maybe it'll grow on me."
Deep thoughts: "Definitely has a buttery, oily finish to it. The slogan could be, 'It'll put oily hair on your chest'."
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Salamanders
Initial Impression: "Citrus-y smell, but that's probably the lemon garnish."
Flavor Notes: "It's really clean and fresh, I mean... I like it."
Bummer: "Tastes like Lemon Pledge, not that I've ever tasted Lemon Pledge…"
Deep thoughts: "You know what else tastes like Lemon Pledge? Fruit Loop flavored vodka."
Rating: 4 out of 5 Bottles of Citrus Fabuloso
We sampled the above gins in dry martinis with lemon twists as opposed to straight, so I would say that the Waterloo lent itself better to that cocktail, but the Genius was definitely more complex and interesting. Genius wins.
Z Tequila Blanco
Before We Start: "All of these itty bitty sips are making me an itty bitty not-sober..."
Initial Impression: "Citrus aroma, medicinal, smoky... smells like a margarita already!"
Flavor Notes: "BAND-AIDs! That's a good flavor, though."
Deep thoughts: "I could definitely drink that straight -- oh wait, I AM drinking it straight!"
Rating: 5 out of 5 Donatello Action Figures
Republic Tequila Organic Plata
Initial Impression: "Tastes like vodka mixed with tequila."
Flavor Notes: "Gym socks for sure."
Deep thoughts: "Let's finish these so we can move onto the whisky."
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Texas-Shaped Bottles
Hands down, we were a fan of the Z Tequila Blanco. It tasted like a fancy tequila, even though we have no idea what it costs.
This was an unprecedented face-off of brother vs. brother, similar to the plot of The Lion King, except without talking lions and Elton John's soundtrack and… okay, maybe that was a bad comparison. These two whiskies are from the same distillery and come with lots of acclaim so, without further ado…
Baby Blue Whisky
Initial Impression: "Whoooo -- that's got a kick to it."
Flavor Notes: "Chocolatey."
Deep thoughts: "This is so good, it makes me want to take my shirt off which would be hot... except I have another shirt on underneath."
Rating: 5 out of 5 Tiny Blue Suede Shoes
True Blue Whisky
Initial Impression: "I have heard a lot of good things about this whisky."
Flavor Notes: "Wow. I like that A LOT. It's thicker and more syrupy. This totally beats 'Baby'."
Bummer: "'Beats baby' sounds abusive, but I feel too much like Rip Torn on a Friday night to discern."
Deep thoughts: "How does a whisky manage to taste sort of like bubble gum and iced tea?"
Rating: 5 out of 5 Normal-Sized Blue Suede Shoes
Balcones Distillery is no joke. True Blue was amazing and I want to drink it now. Also I want to drink Baby Blue. And try every other whisky they touch. This guy is an old-fashioned tie.