The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2017

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78  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2017 BROWN SPIRITS F ew states in the Union boast larger-than-life personalities quite like Texas does, and the past decade saw a certain clear spirit from the Lone Star State slowly take over the rest of the U.S. The Dallas-based company Southwest Spirits & Wine is hedging its bets that the next "big" thing to come out of Texas will be one of its craft spirits—with whiskey leading the charge. According to Mike Howard, President of Southwest Spirits & Wine, the brand identity within the company's extensive portfolio comes down to one thing: taste. "I tend to get on my soapbox because we have allowed our industry to start with the process versus the taste," he explains. "We start with the taste and focus on the ingredients, then we break down the production process." This approach ensures the company remains dedicated to what ultimately fills its vessels in an industry often fixated instead on marketing gimmicks and bottle- label aesthetics. "It's not always about the look or the production," says Kristy Barefoot, Director of Trade Marketing at Southwest Spirits & Wine. "We watch the trends so that we can be flexible enough to adapt quickly, but we always stay true to ourselves." John Fortman, COO of Southwest Spirits & Wine, also acts as the company's Master Blender. After more than three decades in the food industry, Fortman felt it was time to take his refined palate to the spirits world. "I've been doing food tastings for 34 years to analyze components. You can't help but learn how to break things apart," he says. Dallas Whiskey Club SOUTHWEST SPIRITS & WINE BRINGS A 'TEXAS FEEL' TO ITS WHISKIES by Matt Jackson PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST WINES & SPIRITS

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