Editor and Publisher
(This is the fifth in a series of articles involving economic development in our area and how the EDC and Chamber is helping business retention and growth locally)
Teaching soldiers how to shoot their rifles led Jacob Bynum to drink.
Well, maybe not literally drinking, but it did lead him down a road to eventually start distilling his own rum in Kingsville with his brother-in-law James Warren.
The rum is called Wild Horse, and it is distilled at the Wild Horse Distillery on Bynum’s property at 581 W. County Road 2180 just outside of Kingsville.
The distillery has been officially operating since Nov. 30, 2017, but its genesis began overseas 10 years ago.
“I was in Perth, Australia working with the Australian Army when I met a guy who started messing around making rum in a make-shift container,” Bynum said.
“He was mixing it in a small kettle, boiled it and did who-knows-what-to-it, but it came out as real rum. I was impressed enough to get the recipe and brought it back to Texas to play around with.”
Bynum said he found a willing co-conspirator, er, collaborator in Warren.
“James played around with the recipe for a while before he finally hit on something we both liked,” Bynum recalled. “We started doing it for fun—we never sold it.
“After all, we are not moonshiners!” he joked.
Warren and Bynum had figured out how to triple filter their rum, which makes it different from other rums.
The triple filtering process removes more of the impurities and by-products in the distilling process.
The first rum they made was a traditional white rum, an 80-proof rum that can be mixed with just about anything.
They have since added two other main products: Australian Gold (a rum mixed with a dash of honey) and their Texas Reserve, which is a more full-bodied and distilled rum processed with Texas mesquite flavoring.
“We are proud of our Texas Reserve which we age here in Kingsville,” Warner said. “It was a silver medal winner at the Washington Cup competition.”
Bynum said the process of tinkering with rum to actually distilling it for sale was a long and detailed process.
“Like I said, we started down this road 10 years ago. We started making it in five-gallon vats, then increased it to 40 gallons, then 150 and now we are at 500 gallons.
“Before we could legally open Wild Horse for limited sales and distribution, we had to have the approval of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and TABC—and they are very particular and detail-oriented.”
After having their operation reviewed and tested, seeking and gaining the approval of the name of the Rum and what they could put on their label, TABC signed off on letting the distillery begin operations in 2017.
“We are allowed to sell to the public, but only two bottles per month per customer,” Bynum said. “The rest of our sales are through L and F Distributing out of Corpus.”
Under current licensing rules, Wild Horse is allowed to sell to its distributor who then sells it to liquor stores and the public. Bars and restaurants buy it from the liquor stores too.
“The rum market is really growing so we had to really ramp up production,” Bynum said. “Our goal and plan is to be able to open up our distillery here to be a retail outlet. We have room to hold large events and we’d like to give tours and have tastings. We want to be able to sell to our customers at more than just two bottles per month.”
Bynum said they have applied to TABC for a different license, and hope to have everything approved and in place by August or September.
“We have lots of plans, and I hope to be doing this five years from now,” Bynum smiled.
“We even hope to make Bourbon starting in 2021.
“We owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people, like the owners of Bray’s Smokehouse, L and F Distributing and Manny (Salazar) at the Chamber. With their help and the support of the community I hope Wild Horse Distillery is here for a long time.”