Welcome to our Happy Hour Question & Answer series, where we ask questions to interesting people in the alcohol world.
This week’s spotlight is on Maverick Distilling and founder Dr. Kenneth Maverick. Maverick Distilling is a distillery/brewery/bar situated on the original homestead of Samuel Maverick—signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and the Maverick for whom all other mavericks are named—just steps from the Alamo. Maverick Distilling has an array of whiskeys and spirits. To find Maverick’s spirits, visit the distillery’s website: https://maverickwhiskey.com/find-our-spirits/).
Hops & Spirits: Did Maverick Distilling really start after a home distilling project “gone wrong?”
Kenneth Maverick: Allegedly…(to protect the innocent), some large fermentation bottles may have not been venting properly, that caused a loud hissing noise in the middle of the night waking my wife Amy and me. We didn’t know what it was, but discovered the next day the mash had sprayed all over our basement covering everything with dried sticky grain. Amy said, “I love you, but can you do this somewhere else?” It just so happens the Lockwood Bank building, that sits on our original Maverick Family Homestead across from the Alamo, went up for sale. The rest is history as they say.
HS: What was it like going from home distilling to launching a distillery?
KM: I suppose all distilleries at some point start at home. My scientific background and interest in the process started as a weekend project in the backyard involving family and friends. My wife and I were inspired by the diaries of Sam and Mary Maverick to show our children that with family, we could build something from nothing, and Maverick Distilling was born. We involved professional distillers from the beginning and consulted with a still manufacturer from the start to scale production and recipes. It’s a continued learning process and journey that keeps it interesting and challenging.
HS: What does being in the Lockwood National Bank Building mean to y’all?
KM: Having Maverick Distilling located on the original Maverick Family Homestead of Sam and Mary Maverick instills a unique spirit into our spirits. We painstakingly restored the 104-year old building, which had fallen into disrepair, and got it recognized as a historic building to protect the history of the building and the land.
HS: How did you decide on having a distillery, brewery, bar and more there?
KM: While really good spirits are our cornerstone, we want to be family friendly to tourists and San Antonians alike. We want to be approachable and have something for everyone visiting. Not everyone wants a whiskey when it’s 100 degrees in August, but a really cold craft beer hits the spot. Also, as we host events, this allows us to serve food, beer and even wine (yes, we also have a winery license) for special events.
HS: What’s it like sharing the history of your family?
KM: Every family has a story, and I learned if you go back far enough there are amazing connections between families that settled in San Antonio. It’s inspiring to hear stories from others that seem to connect us all. We hope Maverick Distilling serves as a connector to our shared history. We all have more in common that we know.
Our family has a unique first-hand account of history through the Maverick family diaries and papers that were kept in archives, and with Sam Maverick as one of the only survivors of the Alamo siege, we feel obligated to help.
HS: Your latest release is the Private Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey, what can folks expect with it?
KM: We set out to make a statement with our new Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon that the utmost quality and craftsmanship can be achieved with grain-to-glass whiskey made in Texas. With our head distiller, we personally selected the very best 30-gallon barrels for Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon. Its name is a nod to our family heritage, as well as the location on which it was made—distilled on the land that was once Samuel Maverick’s original homestead in the 1800s. With every element stemming from the Lone Star State, we have crafted and bottled a true taste of Texas.
HS: You also have several other bourbons, a gin and tequila. How did those come about?
KM: Part of our mission is to have a place where there is something for everyone. We want everyone to feel at home at Maverick Distilling. We recognize that not everyone wants bourbon all of the time. With that in mind, we decided to produce other high-quality handmade spirits made with Texas ingredients. We let our distillers express their own creativity in these products. That’s part of the fun in owning and working in a distillery. We have won awards for just about everything we have produced, so each of these is a high-quality spirit with local flavor and character.
HS: What’s next for you all?
KM: Now that we have been distilling for over 4 years, we are starting to have a broad library of well aged spirits that are really, really good and getting better. We have aged whiskeys of wheat, triticale, Private Reserve, and the backyard recipe that have yet to be released. We have rum, gin, and agave aging in our whiskey barrels. This is when it really gets fun and interesting!