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100% Texas-made light whiskey wins gold medal at international spirit competition 

click image Austin 101 Light Whiskey won big at the 202 Denver International Spirits Competition. - INSTAGRAM / AUSTIN101WHISKEY
  • Instagram / austin101whiskey
  • Austin 101 Light Whiskey won big at the 202 Denver International Spirits Competition.
Here’s some news that lovers of Texas whiskey can raise a glass to.

Austin 101 Light Whiskey last week brought home a gold medal from the 2021 Denver International Spirits Competition, prevailing in a double-blind tasting competition. The Austin-based whiskey was one of more than 350 spirits from 100 international brands tasted by the panel, and was awarded gold in the American Craft Whiskey category.

While the term “light” often refers to lower-calories libations, in the realm of bourbon, light whiskey is a designation used to define those distilled to higher than 160 proof and lower than 190 proof, and aged in used or uncharred new oak containers. As the name suggests, it tends to be light in flavor and color.

While there's been an explosion of Lone Star State-produced whiskeys, Austin 101 has tried to stand out from the herd by promoting that it’s made entirely in Texas, from the grain to the bottle. In contrast to distillers that use corn from the Midwest, the company's founders say they're showcasing authentic Texas terroir while lessening the brand's carbon footprint.

The 101 proof whiskey is made from non-GMO Texas white corn, red winter wheat from the panhandle, Texas-grown barley malted in Fort Worth and water from the Texas Hill Country.

According to tasting notes, Austin 101 Light Whiskey offers hints of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla. A slight sweetness, softness and nuttiness are products of the local grains used in the mash, which delivers a long, mellow finish, the distiller said.

While the term “light” often refers to libations with lesser calories, in the realm of bourbon, Light Whiskey is an official spirit designation. Defined as a whiskey distilled to higher than 160 proof and lower than 190 proof, and aged in used or uncharred new oak containers, light whiskey can be, well, light in flavor and light in color.

Bourbon, by contrast, usually enters new, charred oak barrels in the 100- to 125-proof range, creating — as it ages — strong notes of vanilla, oak and caramel.

The original American light whiskies were designed to compete with lighter spirits – gin, vodka, and blended imported whisky — that were super popular in the 1960s and 70s. While the timidly flavored, almost vodka-like whiskies of that era never really caught on as standalone products, it seems Austin 101 is hoping to offer the market a Texas-sized comeback.

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January 12, 2022

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