Deep Ellum Vodka has a distinctive ring. Maybe because Austin’s Deep Eddy has primed us. But in this case it’s a homegrown ring. Deep Ellum Distillery—an offshoot, as you might expect, of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.—has had a vodka in distribution since November. But as of this Friday’s grand opening, the digs at 2817 Canton St. will welcome the public. This is a big step in a city that has only a micro distilling scene and no such public venues.
You can expect to sip in a space that is half production facility and half built-out bar, lounging under the moniker “DiStill My Heart,” one of several murals painted by a local artist, a gleaming copper still in the background.
“We started the process several years back,” says Deep Ellum Brewery founder John Reardon. The company’s first Distilled Spirits Permit was for the brewery location, but the brewery itself was expanding (a process I wrote about earlier this month). An annex became the staging ground not only for barrel-aged brews, but also for the nascent distilling project.
Now, a copper still—a column-pot hybrid—from Vendome Copper and Brass Works, based in Kentucky, processes 1,500 gallons at a time, falling under the category of small-batch. Continuous filtration and brandy-style proofing achieve a smooth finish and pure taste.
The distillery will offer what they’re calling a Vodka Academy at 3 and 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, small tutorials limited to 20-25 people that will shed light on the distilling process.
For those wanting to get fancy, the tasting room offers a rotating menu of specialty cocktails and straight-up vodka infusions in flavors like cacao nib, strawberry-basil, Serrano pepper, dill pickle, grapefruit peel, blueberry lemon, and blackberry lemon. All of the infusions shun added sugars; they’re all-natural spins on the All-Purpose vodka that is the distillery’s base.
“The cacao nibs [infusion] and splash of soda water and it tastes like a fudgesicle,” Reardon says.
Reardon also acknowledges that vodka is the stepping stone into brown liquors. They’re working on a Rock ‘N’ Rye (infused with rock sugar and spices). Using unmalted barley from TexMalt, a craft malt producer in Fort Worth, Reardon says they have their sights on a closed-fermentation, Irish-style whiskey made in Texas. “We’ll probably have a couple bottles ready in next couple of months,” he says. “We also have a gin still on order.”
“We’re not trying to go out and take over the world,” Reardon says. “Just looking to be a community distillery. That’s the model that worked well with the brewery. We’re trying to do the same thing.”
Check the Deep Ellum Vodka website for details about the grand opening.