What: Blackland Distillery, a modern, high-tech distillery and tasting room in Fort Worth’s Foundry District, launched its flagship bourbon, Prairie Gold Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey on May 4.  

Aged for a minimum of three years in new oak American barrels, Prairie Gold is cooked, fermented, and distilled on-site using 100% Texas grains from Texas farmers. It’s crafted with a blend of 80% yellow corn and 20% triticale, a wheat and rye hybrid. 

The 50% alcohol-by-volume and 100-proof spirit joins Blackland’s diverse product portfolio, including vodka, gin, bourbon, rye whiskey, and Texas Pecan Brown Sugar Bourbon. 

Where: Blackland Distiller, 2616 Weisenberger St., offers a cocktail lounge and tasting room and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday. The new bourbon, like the other Blackland Distillery products, will be distributed by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. It is available currently at Blackland’s tasting room and will shortly be available at various retailers. Prairie Gold will retail for $100. 

Markus Kypreos, owner and founder of Blackland Distillery, spoke with business editor Bob Francis about the new bourbon. 

Francis: What sets this bourbon apart?

Kypreos: One, there’s just not a lot of straight Texas bourbon out there, in that the oldest distilleries in Texas, whiskey distilleries, opened in 2008 in Garrison and Balcones. So when you look at the market or the industry, the Texas whiskey industry, it’s just very young when you compare that to say Kentucky and Indiana, then to Tennessee, and then Scotland and Ireland. 

So what sets us apart is we’re just one of the few brands that’s making a straight Texas bourbon first and foremost, because there’s only a handful doing it. Most people are blending, and that’s how we started, where you source bourbon and then you blend with your young stuff. But the other thing is that everything we do here is at a sort of elevated, focus on quality level, and we’re trying to make the best bourbon possible.

We started making this right when we started in the beginning of 2018, but this is our strain, like grain-to-glass bourbon, that we’ve been working on since the beginning. And it just has to sit there and age. You can’t rush it. And that’s one of the barriers to entry of this distilling business. You can start a brewery tomorrow and start making and have beer in a week. Bourbon, like grain-to-glass straight Texas bourbon, takes years. And so we’ve been really waiting on this, and finally it came out.

We don’t have a ton of it because when we started, we weren’t a giant distillery. And so we’ve made more over time and that’ll be released over time. There’s going to be a greater demand than supply. 

Lastly, I would just say the uniqueness of how we made it. For something to be bourbon, there’s some rules. It has to be made in America. It has to be at least 51% corn in the grain that you use, and it has to be aged in a new oak American barrel. And so really, the differentiator there for us is, and amongst bourbon-makers, is what is your recipe using the grains.

And so for us, we used 80% corn in 20% of a grain called triticale, which is a grain grown here in North Texas. It’s a cross pollinate of rye and wheat. I really like the flavor of it. Not a lot of people are using it in the United States, so it was a nice differentiator for us.

It’s really a feed grain that they created and they did it because the rye and the wheat are both male grains, so they had to use engineering to bring it together. But what happened for us is just that rye tends to be spicy, wheat tends to be creamy, and so the wheat kind of cuts into the spiciness of the rye, and it’s a unique flavor profile. That’s a lot of geeky grain talk there.

Francis: You mentioned sales are still good. What trends are you seeing in the distilled spirits world? 

Kypreos: For us, we’ve pushed into, I think 15 states now, and a big part of that has been the Texas Pecan Brown Sugar Bourbon. That’s about 50% of our sales, believe it or not. I will say that 83% of our sales are whiskey. So the pecan, the bourbon and the rye together, that’s 83%.  There is a demand for whiskey right now. And so I think that’s a trend that we’ve really seen.

I think big picture, there tends to be a, right now, demand for premium to ultra premium Texas whiskey. When you look back at the big picture and you see Pernod Ricard came in and bought Firestone and Robertson or TXWhiskey a few years ago, and then Diageo came in and bought Balcones in Waco. You can see that there’s a lot of attention and a lot of money being invested into Texas whiskey. It’s a young market, but people are paying attention to it.

Francis: I just saw that the good folks at Shiner are planning to open a distillery there. 

Kypreos: Beer to me is fascinating. It’s just so foreign to me. I still think there’s far less competition on the Texas distillery market especially. There’s way more beer, and then beer really got hurt during Covid. Beer is sort of an event festival, outdoor-type, concert-type drink. So when people were drinking at their house, they were drinking distilled spirits and wine. And then the introduction of seltzers came along, which was just an easy grab and go, and it was lighter than beer. And so beer’s kind of taken a hit the last few years. So it doesn’t surprise me. Everyone seems to be moving towards distilling. I know a lot of breweries that are doing that, a lot of beers. And then on that note, just on a side note, I think tequila is the hottest thing there is right now. I don’t know if there’s a hotter spirit than that.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org.  At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Creative Commons License

Noncommercial entities may republish our articles for free by following our guidelines. For commercial licensing, please email hello@fortworthreport.org.

Avatar photo

Bob FrancisBusiness Editor

Robert Francis is a Fort Worth native and journalist who has extensive experience covering business and technology locally, nationally and internationally. He is also a former president of the local Society...