History lessons aren’t often found at the bottom of a bottle, but at Belt Buckle Distillery, every sip tells a story. The name itself is a tribute to Abilene being the “buckle of the Bible belt,” said co-owner and founder Keith Sanders.
“Everything we do revolves around Abilene and the Big Country,” he said.
The gin is called ”Paint Creek” and is a tribute to the nearby place where the Comanche nation made their war paint. This gin is made of juniper and 16 other flavors, most prominently a refreshing cucumber. The bourbon is called “13 Arrows” and is named in honor of a story about the nearby Fort Chadbourne. Legend says a soldier at the fort had a run-in with the Comanche and returned to the fort with 13 arrows in him, but said he couldn’t feel it because of the liquor.
The tasting room of the distillery tells its own piece of history in the Brunswick bar originally made in Gonzales in 1860. It came to Abilene in the 50s and the Belt Buckle founders were able to purchase it and put it in their building. At some point in history, the bar must have been in a fight because there are bullet holes in it!
Guests at the Belt Buckle Distillery may not have that wild of a wild west experience, but they can experience cocktails crafted by Sanders and of course the distillery’s original bourbon and gin. As other liquors are created, Sanders said he’ll test out ideas with guests who come in before launching new products.
Sanders started his craft at a young age before he could legally participate in it. After a trip to Napa with his dad in 8th grade, Sanders wanted to try making wine. His dad bought him a wine kit and he made different flavors for his dad’s friends to try. Eventually he expanded to beer and now liquor made in the Belt Buckle Distillery’s 40-gallon distiller.
Customers can learn all about the distilling process and the story behind the drinks on Fridays from 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-8 p.m.
650 N 5th, Abilene, TX 79601 • 325-668-5707
By Haley Laurence
Photos By Taylor Hood