Under-the-radar San Antonio distillery is an oasis for rum fans
The spirits scene in San Antonio is growing. Fans of local craft whiskey, gin, vodka, and brandy have their options — and so do fans of rum.
Edwards Ridge Distillery, which launched operations in 2016, is the brainchild of partners Luis Gonzalez, Nathan Brown, Joe Neely, and Jonathan Reading. They initially considered producing whiskey or moonshine, but after looking at the marketplace and gauging their own distilling experiences, they decided on rum.
The premier spirit is William, Talus rum, available in silver and gold versions. The silver rum is 90 proof and made from sugar cane molasses sourced from the United States. The gold rum, also 90 proof, is aged in charred, white oak barrels, creating a smooth, sweet drink.
Both are distilled in a 250-gallon still from Hillbilly Stills, a Kentucky-based company that specializes in equipment for moonshine. The partners refer to the still as Billy, which helped inspire the name of the Edwards Ridge rums; William, of course, is the formal version of Bill and a talus is a slope — aka hill.
"So, you could say we're a hillbilly rum," one company representative says.
Edwards Ridge has already received significant attention at spirits competitions. Earlier this year, the team was awarded a silver medal at the Denver International Spirits Competition, an annual event judged by a panel of famed sommeliers and food and beverage professionals.
The distillery and the taproom, open Thursdays through Saturdays from 3-10 pm, are located in a nondescript building surrounded by small industrial and office spaces on the Northwest side. It's spacious enough, with bar stools and a few separate tables. Guests can be entertained by the occasional movie and television show while enjoying William, Talus neat or in a craft cocktail, which run $6-$8 on average. If you're in the mood for a simple rum and Coke, you can get that too.
Presently, the bar offers "remixed" classic cocktails, such as the old fashioned, Hemingway daiquiri, dark and stormy, and French 75. One example is The Painkiller, with William, Talus gold rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and nutmeg.
The bar also has its signature cocktails, including the Frisky Mule and the Cuban Sunset. The team is seeking friendly suggestions for a new moniker for the No Name, which comes with the silver rum, lemon, lime, strawberries, mint, guava, pineapple and orange juices, sweet and sour, triple sec, and grenadine.
Edwards Ridge offers guided tours during taproom hours. The space is also available to host a party or other gathering. On the whole, it's a relaxed atmosphere where partners and employees are eager to educate patrons on the rum selection and ensure they have a good time.
Bottles of Edwards Ridge rum, each of which is inspected and hand-signed, can be found at a growing number of liquor stores — including Alamo City Liquor and Gabriel's Liquor — or purchased straight from the distillery. The product is also available at a handful of local bars.
The distillery is looking into producing a whiskey, which it hopes to release later this year, and beer may be in the works as well.