According to the American Craft Spirits Association, the number of craft distilleries in America totaled 1,315 as of August 2016. This number, compared to 204 distilleries reported in 2010, represents a 544 percent increase of distilleries in the country, marking a dramatic shift in the presence of these establishments in America in recent years.
There are four distilleries in the Fort Worth area.
Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. produces TX whiskey, Acre Distillery makes Longhair Jim straight bourbon whiskey, and the Trinity River Distillery crafts Silver Star whiskey. BlackEyed Distilling Co. LLC produces TreyMark Black-Eyed vodka.
After the rise in popularity and continued success of craft breweries, the craft spirit industry finally had its time. The difference, however, is the difficulty of owning and operating a distillery compared to a brewery.
Tony Formby, owner of Acre Distillery in downtown Fort Worth, said to get into distilling is a lot more complicated and expensive than the brewing business.
“It requires a lot more capital and the competition from the older establishments is rigorous,” Formby said.
The craft distillery trend can be attributed to a variety of causes. Dr. Eric Simanek, professor of chemistry at TCU, largely accredits the trend to changing laws and accessibility.
In 2013, Texas passed a bill enabling distilleries to sell their specialty products on-site. This act had been illegal since the 1920s, which halted growth for numerous distilleries.
Formby said one reason he decided to open the distillery was because of this new law.
“Local and in-state sales are the backbone of small, growing distilleries,” Maggie Lehman, associate director, American Craft Spirits Association, said in a craft spirits economic briefing. “They allow these businesses to survive the early difficult years of getting off the ground.”