The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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1 12  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2014 DISTILLERY TOUR the tasting room. He says that while drawing up plans with architect Gary Payne of the Austin firm Enviroplan, the most important aspect was that the tasting room needed to reflect the Deep Eddy Vodka brand by being inviting, fun and approachable. This was accomplished using warm, welcoming materials, like pine and native Texas stone, for both the exterior and interiors. The angled ceiling tops out at about 24 feet, and the floor-to-ceiling windows allow for an abundance of natural light. There's a working wood-burning fireplace inside and a covered patio with great views outside. Collectively, the space could easily accommodate 300 visitors at a time. Auler also knew he'd want to take advantage of the educational oppor- tunities of having a captive audience. For instance, since Deep Eddy Vodka's success is due in no-small part to using real ingredients in favor of flavoring agents, the banners near the entrance inform guests of how cranberries from Massachusetts and grapefruit from California help set Deep Eddy Vodka apart from other flavored vodkas. "The information is easy to notice and quick to take in. But I think it'll stay with visitors," says Auler. Additionally, guests can view the actual vodka-making process through a large picture window, which looks out on the production floor. At the L-shaped wooden bar, visitors can taste the products, either straight or dressed up in specialty cocktails. "If someone wants a vodka-soda, they can get that. But our mixology team has also put together a neat cocktail menu with about a half-dozen cocktails for each of our products," Auler says. Selling spirits directly to customers is new to distillers like Auler because direct sales is a relatively new right for the Texas distilled spirits industry. It was just over a year ago when Texas law finally permitted distilleries to sell a cocktail and/or a bottle (one 750-ml. bottle per customer, per month) to their on-premises guests. "We were pleasantly surprised," he says of the law's passage last year. "We were actually planning this place with the idea that we would never be able to do that, though. The new distillery was planned well in advance because of the tremendous growth we have experienced since the birth of the company in 2010. And regardless of whether we would ever make a dollar selling a cocktail or commemorative bottles, it was the ability to engage with consumers in this way that was going to end up being so powerful." Auler says Deep Eddy Vodka is releasing a new flavor in January, which is another reason he expects this space to quickly become a "destination tasting room." For now, though, he's keeping tight-lipped about the product, other than to say, "We are extremely excited about it. It'll be made in the same style as all our other products, with real ingredients. We've been working on it solidly for the past six months and it's tasting delicious." If this new product turns out to be anything like the rest of the lineup, it'll become another reason why—at least for the Texas craft beverage industry—all roads apparently lead to Deep Eddy. Deep Eddy produces roughly 400,000 cases annually of its four-product lineup, but the new facility is capable of increasing that volume to two million cases a year.

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