Last year I wrote an article for Distiller Magazine called "From Bark to Bourbon," about the effort that Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. went through to find the right wild yeast for their bourbon. At the time of my visit the oldest bourbon had been in barrels for about three years with no definite plans of when to bottle. However that may be changing. Recently I was looking at the TTB's Public COLA Registry which allows the public to view beer, wine, and spirit labels approved by the Federal Government. While I was looking I came across the approved label for FRDC's Straight Bourbon.
Stylistically this label matches there current whiskey TX Blended Whiskey which they have making from purchased whiskeys they blend together. I appreciate their honesty and transparency about their process while they've been waiting for the bourbon to come of age.
There are a couple of things that we learn from the label. First and in no particular order, they have decided to bottle at 45% ABV or 90 proof. This is a very common bottling strength for bourbon and a good sign they are focused on the flavor more than how many bottles they can squeeze out of the barrel. Second, they have decided to bottle this as a "Straight Bourbon" which legally means that the whiskey in the bottle is at minimum two years old and it has nothing added to it accept water to proof it down from barrel strength. Third, there is no age statement on the label which indicates that the youngest bourbon in the bottle is a minimum of four years old. This is a funny quirk in the labeling laws but what it means for American whiskey is that anything younger than four years old must state the age of the whiskey in years, months, days etc. while anything four years and older is not required to state the age. Lastly, the production statement on the back label is clear that they distilled, aged and bottled this bourbon which is the clearest way of saying they are the one's who made it. Unfortunately the labeling laws are a little strange in this regard because anything labeled, produced, made, or even handmade could mean that the spirit in the bottle was distilled by someone else. Their label makes it clear that the bourbon in the bottle from from FRDC.
Now what does this mean? Well it doesn't mean that it will be hitting store shelves anytime soon. The label approval process can sometime take months so distillers will submit a label for approval well before they are ready to bring the spirit to market. However, it is an exciting indication that we are getting closer to tasting what I expect will be a fantastic Texas bourbon.