Swift Single Malt is going places
By now, everyone knows about the micro distillery boom in Austin and surrounding areas, and with good reason. Central Texas is now producing some of the world's best spirits. But before now, most of that production has focused on vodka, gin, and blended whiskey. So, it came as a surprise to hear that a single malt is coming out of Dripping Springs. With plenty of reservations, I attended a tasting. Turns out, I was in for a treat.
The husband-and-wife team of Nick and Amanda Swift co-founded Swift Distillery in October 2012. The couple met while attending high school in Houston, and have been together since – later moving to Austin to pursue their degrees. Like many, they stayed on after graduation, but eventually found that something was missing. Although they both enjoyed their career paths, their jobs were hour-intensive and the couple longed to spend more time together. Amanda's work researching fire ants at the Brackenridge Field lab was interesting, but their love for each other (and their favorite spirit) lead to a life change.
The Swifts spent years traveling, researching, and solidifying their business plan and recipe, before the first batch of Swift Single Malt was finally released in late October 2014. Swift Single Malt is twice-distilled from 100% Scottish malted barley, modeled after a traditional Speyside Scotch. Thanks to Amanda's scientific background and attention to detail, the water is controlled down to the molecular level to match the composition of Scotland's water, and is never chill-filtered. The Swifts rely on maintaining flavor through the malt, and by aging each batch in Kentucky bourbon barrels, which they hand selected during their travels on the Bourbon Trail. The spirit is then finished in Oloroso sherry casks sourced from Spain, one of the most sought-after whiskey casks in the world for its toasted, thin black carbon layer.
Aside from their hands-on dedication to the whole distilling process, the couple also cooper each barrel and cask in-house using sustainable methods. When the time comes, they bottle and label every single bottle, sometimes recruiting help from family and friends, including Amanda's mother and the occasional friend who drops by for a visit. The bottles are hand-numbered by batch.
Swift Single Malt boasts a rich flavor with vanilla overtones, a slight spiciness and smokiness that resembles the peat flavors in Scotch. The Swifts do not use peat in any stage of the production of their single malt. During the official launch party at Peche, guests enjoyed the Fizzy Fox – named after the playful fox on the label – made with honey syrup, fresh grapefruit, and sparkling wine, as well as the Swift Kick, a boozy drink enhanced by fresh lime juice and Chartreuse. As a purist, I would prefer to enjoy it a more traditional way: neat or with a good quality ice cube, in front of a fireplace or fire pit, slowly sipped with someone you love.