On Sunday, Eric and I went to Ranger Creek Brewstillery to help them label this month’s barrel of small batch bourbon, called Ranger .36. Each month they bottle a barrel which is approximately 70 cases of small bottles and invite 12 people to come help lable it. The lables have the batch number, bottle number, aging season and time hand written on them.
I didn’t number labels. They are very careful not to duplicate a bottle number. I could picture the person who would check the liquor store labels, looking carefully for the right bottle number. Not. But they do go into the cases consecutively, so the stocker would know.
I picked the easiest label to align, the seal label that goes over the cork and extends do the sides of the neck.
Bourbon is any liquor that is at least 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. After the barrels are used once for bourbon, they go on to have other useful lives, aging scotch (or a version of Scotch that doesn’t come from Scotland and so cannot be called Scotch).
Ranger Creek Bourbon is a really well-crafted bourbon, sweet with honey overtones (or that’s what it was like to me). It reminded me of Wild Turkey a bit. It’s worth trying a bottle. And if you want to put your hands on the process, you can sign up at Ranger Creek’s Website. But they don’t pre-announce. you have to be watching the website at the right time to find your chance.
The founders are smart, careful, hardworking, hospitable and unflappable. They kept their day jobs as they build up their market. They have two employees, a brewer and somebody else, while they come in on the weekends and take care of the stuff that can wait. Like this bottling party. They started in 2010 and expect to have their big bourbon out of the aging casks in 2 years. Ranger Creek is a class operation with a few twists, like the grain smoker on the back lot made from a storage container. MMMM. Smells like barbecue.
They’ll feed you pizza and whatever of their beers you care to drink. And you get to take home a bottle from that batch. You can also find their bourbon at Specks, Gabriels and other liquor stores in San Antonio and Austin.
Oh, I forgot to mention that their beers are also well-crafted. It’s a good time for all. Plus, you’l meet some interesting people.