News You Can Booze
Neat Whiskey Ranch distills spirits with history at old Fort Worth golf club
Combining 80,000 square feet of distillery space with a legendary 18-hole golf course, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.’s Whiskey Ranch opens to the public Friday, November 10.
The distillery, located on the grounds of the former Glen Garden Country Club in southeast Fort Worth, is touting itself as the largest west of the Mississippi River. And while it's not a "ranch" in the usual sense of the word, it is meant to be a destination and gathering place.
The expansive space includes multiple rooms and buildings for meetings and events, shopping, tours, and tastings. Co-owner Leonard Firestone calls it "an historic venue where friends can celebrate, gather, learn, and experience whiskey together."
Historic, because the old golf club is where legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson learned to play the game; golfing memorabilia acquired from Glen Garden is on display.
Guests enter through a massive iron front gate, where they pass rolling hills and golfing greens en route to the Ranch House. That’s where they can shop in a retail store for everything from logo shirts to leather goods and sip whiskey samples and cocktails in The Tavern.
Starting Friday, guests can stop and sip a while at The Tavern, where they can drink TX straight-up or in a handcrafted cocktail. (Don't miss the Pecan Old Fashioned and the TX Smash.)
A secret door in the “barrel breezeway” leads to a small room available for private dining. With the turn of a key, stacked barrels rise to reveal the room’s doorway.
Reclaimed wood and metal are prominent design touches throughout the Western-inspired facility, as are cowhide rugs, leather seating, and reclaimed whiskey barrels. The facility offers sprawling views of the downtown Fort Worth skyline and places to get cozy by indoor and outdoor fireplaces.
Owners Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson launched TX Blended Whiskey in 2012 from their original distillery location, at 901 West Vickery Blvd., just south of downtown. In December 2016, the distilling duo debuted their highly anticipated bourbon, which flew off the shelves as a hot Christmas present.
Firestone & Robertson will move production of both whiskeys to Whiskey Ranch and keep the original location to produce small batch whiskeys.
Their move to Whiskey Ranch was not seamless. When Firestone and Robertson bought Glen Gardens in 2014, they were met with well-publicized resistance from neighbors who worried that a distillery would bring noise, traffic, and general bad behavior. But zoning issues were cleared, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission refused to hear protests against the distillery's application for a permit.
Robertson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “It was to be expected that people … would be concerned. They really didn’t know what to expect. There aren’t many distilleries in the state. Certainly not in North Texas. But I think now, hopefully, they’ve seen that it’s a very well-done property and buildings. We’re not a liquor store. We’re a business, a manufacturer, but more of a lifestyle and entertainment venue.”
Whiskey Ranch can be booked now for private events, although tee times aren’t available while parts of the course are still being revamped. Tours won’t be offered until 2018 as bottling lines and the distilling room is still under construction.
On Thursdays and Fridays through the end of 2017 (except during holiday weekends), guests can visit from 12 noon-5 pm to experience the grounds and drink at The Tavern. Find it at 2601 Whiskey Ranch Road, Fort Worth, 817-840-9140, www.frdistilling.com