Bertie’s Bear Gulch bourbon channels old Montana Credit: Bat City Whiskey
Bertie’s Bear Gulch bourbon channels old Montana Credit: Bat City Whiskey

Texas pride: New Austin whiskey line honors female bootleggers

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As if Townes Van Zandt and Richard Linklater haven’t given us enough reasons to love Austin, Texas, here’s another. A new Bat City whiskey brand celebrates the women who used to make moonshine.

Founder Mark SoRelle got the idea for Saint Liberty Whiskey after reading about female bootleggers who played a key role in the liquor biz during Prohibition, he tells Austin360’s Arianna Auber. Bertie’s Bear Gulch Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the first of six planned bottles honoring these pioneering women distillers. It’s named for Montana’s Bertie (Birdie) Brown—an African-American homesteader who, sadly, died in 1933 after her kitchen still exploded.

Something in the water

To make Bertie’s Bear Gulch, Saint Liberty proofs four-year-old bourbon from Bone Spirits near Austin at Montana’s Lolo Creek Distillery, with the same Rocky Mountain water that Brown would have used. According to SoRelle, you can taste the difference. “I took a proof sample from Bone for the first run in Montana,” he explains. “We tried both (versions) side by side, and the water from the Rockies just enhanced the product overall.” Well worth the trip.🥃 

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