The Texas whiskey scene has been growing steadily since 2006 when Garrison Brothers Distillery was founded. In fact they were the first to obtain a distiller’s permit for bourbon outside of Kentucky and Tennessee. Year after year the number of distilleries kept growing. According to the Texas Whiskey Association website, there are currently 26 distillery members spread throughout the state. Like any whiskey region worth its malted barley, there is a Texas Whiskey Trail to help whiskey-lovers discover the Lone Star State’s best distilleries. Not surprisingly with such a large state, the trail is broken up into regions, the North Texas, Hill Country, South Texas, and Gulf Coast trails.
It won’t take you long to find Andalusia Whiskey Co. if you explore the Hill Country Trail, it’s stop #1. Started by Tommy Erwin and Ty Phelps in 2010, the co-workers turned friends knew they were starting a distillery but didn’t have a name for it. They came across some old property papers that showed that the land where they were building was once called Andalusia Ranches. They looked around and noticed that the Texas Hill Country did in fact look like the rolling hills of Andalusia in Southern Spain. Just like that they had a name.
Stryker Texas Smoked Single Malt Whiskey is a unique product in that it builds on the Scottish tradition of smoking the malted barley, most notably in Islay Scotch, where they burn peat to dry the grain. But this is Texas BBQ country, so Andalusia replaces the peat with oak, mesquite, and apple woods to give this whiskey a singular and complex profile with tons of cinnamon, cedar, and dark chocolate enveloped in a pillow of BBQ smoke.
The La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero has been the standard for full-bodied cigars since its launch in 2003. The cigar’s strength and intense pepper are balanced by a sweet, almond cream characteristic; without it the cigar is just a pepper bomb. A sip of the Stryker followed by a draw from the Double Ligero introduces a unique grassy spearmint note that dials back with subsequent puffs. Typically pairings accentuate notes that were barely perceptible but in this case the spearmint blindsides your palate and momentarily but interestingly modifies the complexion of the cigar entirely.
Photography by: Andy Astencio