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Issue 113 - Texas or bust

Whisky Magazine Issue 113
July 2013


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Texas or bust

Meeting the man behind Texas whiskey

?A confession: When I meet Chip Tate, founder and head distiller at Balcones Distillery, earlier this year, first and briefly at a bar and tasting in London, and then on home turf, in Waco, Texas, I am mildly disappointed. The mighty Chip Tate, author of Baby Blue, of super-smoky Brimstone, of the lip numbing Resurrection? Where's the hat, the bible? Why's he smiling? And how come his teeth are so white? Christ, he's quietly spoken, and gentle, and kind. Doesn't he know where he's from? Waco, home of the Texas Ranger, of the Cowboy, the Indian, of the gun, of Midwest America, of big cars, god fearing Baptists and a day when the Federal Bureau of Investigations showed the whole world how not to tackle a mad bad man called David Koresh? This place is biblical. Where's the preacher?
All of which says next to nothing about Tate, or Waco, and everything about me, about a childhood spent reading trash, about the strange lens through which I have for much of my life viewed Midwest America. Sure, Waco has history, and it is, judging by the parts I saw, a typical central Texas conurbation, a place of wide streets, corners, concrete, of rows of giant stick-like fast food signs, flyovers, sports fields, a place about a halfway between points A and B. However, if at first sight it appears, were I to walk into a bar and declare the 2nd Amendment null and void, or god the invention of man – exactly the sort of place born to show opinionated out-of-towners just how wrong they can be –...

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