Chip Tate: I’m not out of the distillery business

15th December, 2014 by Becky Paskin

Chip Tate, the founder of Balcones Distillery in Texas who left the group earlier this month over a dispute with investors, has revealed plans to build a new distillery in the state.

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Chip Tate browses some new brewing equipment in Baltimore for his new distillery in Texas

The distiller is currently purchasing equipment from a brewery in Baltimore to build a new Texas distillery under new company name Tate & Co.

Restrictions surrounding his departure from Balcones forbid Tate from producing or selling whiskey or any other spirit currently made by his former company until at least 5 March 2016.

However, Tate intends to use the new distillery to produce Texan brandy.

“Skipping a lot of the tedious details, the important fact is I’m not out of the distillery business,” Tate told The Spirits Business. “I will not be producing or selling whiskey until March 2016 per se, but my main focus will be on building a new distillery.”

Tate, who founded Balcones in 2008, left the company this month following a very public disagreement with his investors, who eventually bought the distiller’s shares.

With the capital, along with funding from new investors and potentially crowdfunding, Tate plans to hand build six stills – three 10,000 litre wash stills and three 3,000 litre spirit stills – to make the brandy.

“Texas is the second largest grape producer in the US, and is responsible for saving the wine industry post-phylloxera with a more resilient plant. There’s a great story here and a lot of interest in it.”

Just one other craft distillery in the state is producing Texas brandy – Ironroot Republic – whom Tate will work with on collaborations.

“One focus of mine is to do a lot of artistic collaborations with other distillers and industries like glass makers, that weren’t possible at Balcones,” Tate said.

Tate expects to have built the distillery by the end of 2015, with brandy ready to sell by March 2016.

“Did I plan to leave Balcones? No. Is that sad? Yes. But is the outcome ultimately good? Definitely. This is going to be great. It’s not what I planned but I’m very happy and excited about it. It’s a shame that Balcones is behind us, but c’est la vie.”

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