Fort Worth, Texas
Troy Robertson and Leonard Firestone started Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company in 2010.
Despite a lack of roots in the business, Troy and Leonard had a driving passion for whiskey. Today, Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company produces two flagship products: TX blended whiskey and TX straight bourbon.
Troy and Leonard became friends because their kids were in the same playgroup, but neither one of them had any idea of the other’s distillation dreams – until they both independently made plans to visit the same craft distillery to learn more about the trade.
Troy got there first and, while chatting with the owner, discovered that “another Fort Worth guy” had scheduled a visit the following week. Imagine Troy’s surprise when he found out it was Leonard.
“I hear you want to get into the whiskey business?” Troy said when he later called Leonard. Leonard, who’d told no one except his wife about his plans, was floored.
The two entrepreneurs met for lunch the next day and quickly discovered their shared vision for creating truly Texas whiskeys and the same obsession with old-fashioned craftsmanship. They also both had extensive experience with startup companies and immediately realized that together, they had the passion and know-how to make their whiskey dreams a reality.
Putting the gears into motion
Troy and Leonard set out to find a suitable building for their distillery and eventually identified the perfect location – a reclaimed prohibition-era warehouse just south of downtown Fort Worth.
After a renovation, they added two brand new copper pot-column hybrid stills, custom built to their specifications.
All trails lead back to the farm
Starting a new business meant learning the distilling industry from scratch. “The more we really dove into the science of whiskey making and the pursuit of flavor, the more we discovered that it really starts with the grain,” Troy said.
Rob Arnold, head distiller at Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company couldn’t agree more. “If you look at the wine industry, they focus a lot on this thing called terroir, which is about how a certain region, how the ingredients that grow in a particular place impact the flavors that develop in those ingredients. The same thing is true in whiskey,” he said.
This has lead Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company to purchase all their grains, from corn and wheat to rye and barley, from John Sawyer of Sawyer Farms in Hillsborough, Texas.
“We were looking for diversification for the farm back several years ago and I got interested in distilling,” John said. “I started learning about that and started working on a business model for how to be involved in the whiskey industry. Very quickly thereafter, Sawyer Farms became the sole provider of the whole grains for F and R distilling.”
Thinking of the terroir of Firestone and Robertson’s whiskey, Rob couldn’t be more excited. “The corn that comes out of this ground, out of this farm, has really cool flavors of pineapple, of roses,” he said. “It's got nice fruity notes that are very unique to this farm in this part of Texas.”
Expanding the business
Troy and Leonard think big. They had a vision to create something unique, something large scale, that would really propel their brands forward.
This dream led them to purchase a beautiful golf course and make it their new home: Whiskey Ranch. On 112 acres with views of downtown Fort Worth, Whiskey Ranch is now the largest whiskey distillery West of the Mississippi.
“We've got great outdoor event spaces, as well as a one-of-a-kind tavern with our own mixologist on staff that is there to teach you how to drink our whiskey by itself, all the way to the myriad of different cocktails that you can have,” Troy said.
A partnership for the books
Between the co-founders, the distiller and the farmer, the Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company and Sawyer Farms partnership is one for the books.
“We've worked with John now for over three years and you know, every year it gets better and better,” Troy said.
For John, collaborating with Firestone and Robertson is a way to get his products to the people. “The whole farm to table movement is catching steam, but they're taking it to a different level here,” John said. “We're doing our very best to help them attain that.”
Combined, the many strengths of these partners make for a unique, place-based product, one that they can all be proud of. “We're not just making whiskey in Texas. We are making Texas whiskey a new style, new flavors, distinct and unique to us,” Rob said.
Lone Star Ag Credit is proud to support John Sawyer and Sawyer Farms as they supply the unique grains that make this unique, locally sourced product.