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Spirits maker Hill Country breaks new ground with whiskey distillery

A Texas spirits maker with deep roots in the liquor industry and the Lone Star State is pioneering a new whiskey distillery near Fredericksburg that’s guaranteed to uplift spirits in the Hill Country.

Frontier Spirits – the company behind Pura Vida Tequila led by chairman and founder Stewart Lawrence Skloss, whose family first moved to Texas in 1718 and founded the Buckhorn Saloon in Fredericksburg – has just opened the whiskey distillery of Luckenbach Road.

The new 28,000-square-foot “farm-to-bottle” distillery, located at 21 Luckenbach Rd., just southeast of Fredericksburg, has taken years to prepare and is expected to open in the first quarter of 2023.

The distillery will create its flagship product, Luckenbach Road Whiskey, a premium craft whiskey that Skloss and his team began bottling in early 2021 and is now available in more than 300 liquor stores across Texas.

Tastings of the product began in 2019, with Luckenbach Road Whiskey already earning a string of industry accolades, including winning Best of Class and Double Gold awards from the Craft Distillers Spirits Competition and a Gold Award in the Best Bourbon category from the Craft Distillers Spirits Competition. The Fifty Best competition.

In addition to creating its primary liquor, the new distillery will also include a tasting room and a country store called Little Peach, a dandy name that further solidifies the distillery’s Fredericksburg roots.

Frontier Spirits has worked with several architectural firms – longtime Kentucky bourbon distillery designers Joseph & Joseph + Bravura Architects, Austin’s The Davies Collaborative, and Napa Valley vineyard designer Loren Kroeger – all in the aim to ensure the new distillery will provide a “truly immersive experience” for visitors.

The distillery has also worked with the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University to maximize and develop crops specific to the site’s climate and growing conditions.

With the help of agriculture industry experts, Luckenbach Road Whiskey Distillery grows blue, Indian, purple, yellow and white corn, as well as wheat, barley and rye, all of which will be used for create the brand’s whiskies.

“Caring about what’s in the bottle starts with caring about what’s outside,” Skloss says. “We know everything about our operation has to be top notch, from the people who join our team to the way we grow our grain.”

Leading the liquor-making side, Chief Distiller Emma Kahn, who, as one version of Luckenbach Road Whiskey notes, “runs on a combination of intellect, brain power, gut instinct and can -to be of a little liquid courage”, but also brings “serious industry credibility” to the role. Previously, she worked at distilleries in Dallas-Fort Worth and Central Texas. She is a certified spirits specialist and holds a Level II Whiskey Sommelier certification.

“This is a unique opportunity for me to play a vital role at a crucial stage in the development of Luckenbach Road Whiskey,” says Kahn. “Furthermore, Whiskey and I are backed by a company with a proven track record. This is a very rare and special opportunity and I look forward to giving it my all.

This proven track record involves extensive experience in the alcohol industry in Texas. Skloss founded the award-winning, ultra-premium Pura Vida Tequila in 2011 with guidance from fellow industry stalwarts John Paul Dejoria, the co-founder of The Patrón Spirits Company, and Tito Beveridge of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Likewise, he secured financial and strategic support for the Luckenbach Road Whiskey Distillery from other well-known Texans, including Billy Gibbons, guitarist and lead singer of ZZ Top, who partnered with Balcones Distilling, based in Waco last year to create a new whiskey called Tres. Men.

Skloss’ family connections in the Hill Country are also central to the history of Luckenbach Road Whiskey. After his ninth great-grandparents settled in central Texas in 1718, his third great-grandfather, Heinrich “Henry” Ochs, immigrated to Fredericksburg from Germany in 1851 and became one of first teachers in the city. He later founded the Buckhorn Saloon in Fredericksburg, which served the family’s beer and whiskey recipes.

It is this same premium whiskey recipe that will anchor the Luckenbach Road Whiskey Distillery and win new fans some 170 years after its inception.

“When I read what old newspapers and historical books have to say about my ancestors, it is clear that they left a deep legacy of good spirit, good humor, good deeds and good products,” says Skloss . “I can’t think of a more compelling legacy to uphold as we prepare to open the doors of Luckenbach Road Whiskey Distillery.”