Texas Whiskey Association

Texas Whiskey Association

You’d think that locally crafted whiskey would slide right into the quintessential Texan aesthetic alongside cowboy boots, stetson hats, and cacti-strewn deserts, but this wasn’t always the case.

Little over a decade ago, Texas whiskey didn’t really exist in any substantial commercial sense, but fast forward to present day, and this boozy business is booming in The Lone Star State.

Why? Well, it has a lot to do with the work of The Texas Whiskey Association (TXWA).

You can think of the TXWA as brand ambassadors, not for any single brand of whiskey, but any and all whiskey distilled within the territorial boundaries of the state of Texas.

Stick with us and we’ll introduce you to this noble and surprisingly young institution and their modus operandi.

Texas Distillery Legislation

Before we put the TXWA under the microscope, let’s quickly review what sort of legislation they’re up against in Texas.

State Fees

Texan excise tax rates stand at only $2.40 per gallon (third cheapest in the US).

This mean distillers save a lot of money throughout the year, especially considering a recent federal excise tax cut reduced the fee per gallon from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 produced.

Licensing Requirements

A distiller’s license will set you back a whopping $3000 in the state of Texas, increasing the already steep entry level for those wishing to enter the professional distilling industry. It must be renewed every two years.


You cannot legally own a still in Texas without a commercial distilling license, even if you only intend to use it to distill water or make non-alcoholic produces, and even when you do have a license, you’re faced with a number of restrictions.

The most damaging of them is known as the “2 bottle limit” that states a distillery cannot sell more than 2 bottles of liquor per head, meaning it’s pretty much impossible to reach the 3500-gallon limit imposed by the state.

There’s also a three-tier system in place that means the majority of a distillery’s product must pass through a distributor and then a liquor store, again, stunting revenue and business growth.

Who Are The Texas Whiskey Association?

The TXWA is run by experts in the field of whiskey distillation — We’re talking the CEOs of the most artistic and successful craft whiskey brands in the state.

As it stands, the organization has four Directors:

  • Daniel Whittington: President — Owns and runs Crowded Barrel Whiskey Co., the world’s first completely crowd-funded distillery. 

No big investors play the role of puppeteer in the shadows behind this now infamous, community-forward brand, as all major decisions are made by the enthusiasts that fund it, from what sort of whiskey is made, to where the business will go in the future.

As Crowded Barrel put it themselves, “thousands of magnificent bastards have stepped up and broken those traditional shackles.”

  • Joanna Salinas: Treasurer — Owns and runs Still Austin Whiskey Co., an homage to the brash, uncompromising tenacity of this distillery’s home city, and they make whiskey as varied as the communities that drink it.
  • Brandon Chaote: Director — Owns and runs Lone Elm Whiskey, a distillery that works within a mutually beneficial, self-sufficient resource ecosystem.

Lone Elm sources the finest wheat from local farmers, then returns it in the form of spent mash that the farmers can use to fertilize their crops, increasing the quality of the yield, and thus, increasing the quality of the whiskey over time.

  • Bob Petitt: Director — Owns and runs 1845 Distilling Co., a family run enterprise with roots that dig down eight generations into the past.

Named in honor of early Texan settlers who came to live on and off the land before it was even accepted into the United States, 1845 Distilling Co. prioritizes artistic exploration whilst simultaneously respecting the rich history of Texas.

Why Daniel, Joanna, Brandon, & Bob?

As you can see from the details of each Director’s individual whiskey-crafting endeavor, these aren’t your typical, garden variety distillers.

All four board members are trailblazing innovators that have single-handedly and collectively redefined what it means to run a distillery.

Texas Whiskey Association (1)

No one has helped the scene develop to its current thriving state more than these individuals, so it’s no surprise that they’ve taken the helm at an organization that aims to prop up the Texan distillery industry as a whole.

One thing they all have in common, and undoubtedly one of the reasons they’ve enjoyed so much success following their passion, is that they prioritize community. 

Granted they all go about engaging with their neighbors in different ways, but their strong sense of oneness with their localities is what makes them the cultural and artistic powerhouses they are today.

Where Is The Texas Whiskey Association Headquartered?

The TXWA is currently headquartered in Austin, Texas, at 1011 San Jacinto Blvd. Suite 303b, right in the heart of the state, with a finger on the pulse of ever-evolving Texan culture.

However, this organization is active well beyond the confines of the state capital. They’re willing to work with any distillery operating within The Lone Star State.

What Does The Texas Whiskey Association Do?

Normally, various enterprises within the same industry will do anything to get ahead of the competition, often resulting in some pretty toxic corporate clashes.

But the neat thing about the TXWA is that they completely flip this dog-eat-dog sentiment on its head.

To each of the board members, the success of the Texas whiskey industry as a whole is the ultimate goal. They understand that by doing everything to support the scene, everyone involved, from the distillers to the drinkers, will benefit.

In nutshell, they run on a “there’s enough to go around for everyone” sort of ethos, a selflessness that would typically be preyed upon in greater corporate America, but as leaders of the industry, they’re too well established to become fodder for vulturish entities.

By forming mutually beneficial connections between as many Texan distilleries as possible, the TXWA can increase Texas’s influence on the industry on a global scale.

The question is, how does this organization go about fortifying the Texan whiskey industry?

How Does The TXWA Plan To Achieve Their Goals?

The TXWA base their efforts on four major pillars chosen to stimulate democratized business growth for anyone taking part in the push to earn Texan whiskey the respect and renown it deserves.

  • Spreading awareness about what Texan whiskey is and what makes it unique — The heat in Texas is much more intense than most other whiskey hubs around the world, resulting in an expedited maturing process.

This, in turn, leads to a very different approach to making whiskey, as there are entirely new parameters to work within, meaning Texan distilleries are at the forefront of experimentation.

  • Championing label transparency — Each board member’s business is built on a foundation of honesty, something that commands respect, and they hope by encouraging other distilleries to do the same with their products, they can win the admiration of the industry beyond the borders of the state.
  • Establishing certification standards — By setting standards, they ensure that a certain quality of whiskey is maintained throughout the state.
  • Founding and curating the Texas Whiskey Trail — There’s no better way to spread the word to out-of-towners than to show them first-hand how amazing Texan whiskey is.

Final Thoughts

The TXWA has now accrued 27 member distilleries, all working as one big family for the betterment of Texan whiskey and The Lone Star State in general, as well as its inhabitants.

With such an experienced, proactive, and community-centric organization at the helm of the industry, it’s small wonder why and how the scene has exploded over the last 10 years or so, earning global notoriety.

But the TXWA’s job isn’t done yet; although Texas has established itself as a player on the world stage, there’s always something for the underdog to prove!

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