Garrison Brothers Distillery is the first legal whiskey distillery in Texas. Since its founding in 2005, it has become renowned for the big, bold flavors of its bourbons, producing whiskey big enough to match the state of Texas, and inherently influenced by its locale.
The scorching sun and triple-digit summer heat of the state offer a challenging maturation environment, but one that can enhance the product’s flavors after some trial and error.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the distillery has stepped up with an equally bold idea to give back to those in need, seeking to raise upward of $2 million for disaster response specialists Team Rubicon and its #NeighborsHelpingNeighbors campaign.
Laguna Madre is a limited-edition bourbon that Garrison Brothers was planning to release this summer via normal retail channels. The prized 8-year-old bourbon is the distillery’s oldest and most exclusive to date. Instead of selling the bourbon as usual, though, all 2,004 bottles are being made available exclusively to donors who support their cause. The project is known as Operation Crush Covid-19 and offers several tiers of donations with corresponding gifts for those who contribute.
The bourbon, named for a stretch of water along the Texas gulf coast, had already been allocated to distributors. Distillery founder and proprietor Dan Garrison worked with those partners to bring the bourbon back and contribute it toward this fundraising effort. “I got on the phone and talked to a few Texas retailers and ran the giveaway idea past them,” Garrison says. “Most said they’d support that, even though it meant less income for them—we have good people in this glorious state.”
Donors who make a minimum donation of $1,000 will be gifted a bottle of Laguna Madre, while supplies last. Through Operation Crush Covid-19, Garrison Brothers is also offering several other tiers of donor gifts. At $100, donors receive a clothing item from the gift shop and are eligible for a free distillery tour upon reopening, and at $500, donors receive a “boot flask” 375ml bottle of the distillery’s Small Batch Bourbon, as well as a bottle of Honeydew, a honey-infused whiskey.
As of April 15, the distillery has raised $268,000 from 304 donors through the first week of the campaign, with 85% of the donations coming in at the $1,000-plus tier.
WHAT’S THE GOOD?
The idea for Operation Crush Covid-19 came after a successful venture in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in 2017. “We raised $146,000 for Team Rubicon in just 72 hours promoting a bourbon that hadn’t even matured yet,” Garrison says. “But everyone wanted a bottle of Garrison Brothers Hurricane Tough bourbon. When Jake Wood informed us they would be on the front lines of this pandemic testing sick patients, it was pretty easy to say ‘here we go again!’”
This time, the goal of $2 million is substantially larger, of course. It doesn’t hurt that the mission is backed by the distillery’s oldest ever whiskey. When asked why he set such a lofty goal specifically, Garrison cites Winston Churchill , who said to “dare greatly.”
Garrison initially came upon Team Rubicon and the work they do for disaster relief after the 2015 Memorial Day floods in central Texas.
“They rescued people and rebuilt homes all along the Blanco River,” Garrison says. “They were stationed all along the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Harvey and are still rebuilding homes there. It is an exemplary organization primarily composed of badass American warriors.”
The charitable wing of Garrison Brothers is known as Good Bourbon for a Good Cause and participates in a number of other initiatives to give back to the community. Beyond currently raising funds for Team Rubicon, the distillery is also now producing hand sanitizer, and donating the product to hospitals, fire stations, and first responders.