BlackEyed Distilling Co.
503 Bryan Ave.
Fort Worth 76104
Distillery Tour Times:
2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. Saturday
Tasting Room Hours:
5-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday
2-9 p.m. Saturday
Top 5 states for craft distillers
California – 118
New York – 104
Washington – 103
Colorado – 72
Texas – 71
U.S. total – 1,315
Source: American Craft Spirits Association
Vodka once wasn’t thought of as a Texas product. But Austin-based Tito’s and other vodkas from the Lone Star State have changed that perception.
The American Distilling Institute lists a few Texas distilleries making vodka, and now Fort Worth is in the mix. On March 4, BlackEyed Distilling Co. launched its BLK EYE Vodka, the first vodka crafted by hand from black-eyed peas. What could be more Texan than that?
Distilled in a historic firehouse in Fort Worth’s Near Southside, BLK EYE Vodka got its start during some challenging times for a family-owned black-eyed pea farm in Muleshoe.
Trey Nickels’ family had been growing black-eyed peas for years, but they were seeking a new use for the crop. Why not vodka, thought Nickels? After all, he knew that black-eyed peas are starchy and starches can be distilled into alcohol.
The result is a vodka the company describes as ultra-premium and smooth “with a clean, subtle taste.”
All ingredients in the vodka are sourced from Texas. So is the artwork for the limited-edition debut bottle. It features the work of Fort Worth landscape artist Pat Gabriel, who gives an artistic twist to the common black-eyed pea, with a multimedia illustration of sunflowers growing in a field of black-eyed peas. The BLK EYE brand will continue to evolve as it commissions other local artists for future bottles.
BlackEyed Distilling is one of several distilleries popping up across the country. Just over a decade ago, there were about 50 craft distilleries in the United States, according to the American Craft Spirits Association. Now there are 1,315. Texas is a big part of the mix, ranking No. 5 among the states in the number of distilleries.
Furthering BlackEyed Distilling’s local roots is the distillery’s location in a two-story brick firehouse that opened in 1911. It operated as Fire Station No. 5 until 1965. That may sound odd, but the hole in the floor for the firefighters’ pole turns out to be perfect place for the copper and steel pot still.
A tasting room on the second floor offers BLK EYE Vodka and other exclusive small-batch spirits as cocktails. In addition, the distillery sits on a 31,000-square-foot lot that provides space for outdoor events.
BLK EYE Vodka is available in select retail stores and at the distillery.
– Robert Francis