HOW HOUSTON GOT ITSFirst Legal
If you ask us, Houston is the greatest city in the world. And since you're on our website, we'll assume you asked. But even with all the things that make us proud of Houston — the culture, diversity, our collective story — can a city really consider itself world-class without a hometown whiskey?
That's why in true Texas fashion, we decided to roll up our sleeves and do something about it. But it wasn't a distillery out in the wilderness we had in mind. We planted ourselves right in the Heart of Houston.
And we based our name on a character of local folklore, a woman known as the Yellow Rose of Texas. Legend has it her bravery and guile helped Sam Houston win the battle for Texas' independence from Mexico.
It's with that same independent spirit we craft our whiskeys every day. Right here in the city of Houston, Texas.
More Than Just Talk
Have you ever sat around with your friends, enjoying your favorite beverage, and had a dream to create something new? We did. And it wasn’t just talk. We decided to act on it, and that’s how Yellow Rose was born in 2010.
Yellow Rose launched in the Texas market in 2012. After years of hard work and dedication, we are proud to be Houston’s First Legal Whiskey Distillery.
We don’t do it for the awards, but they do provide some nice motivation and recognition that we’re on the right path. We’ve been honored as Best In Class for our Outlaw Bourbon at the American Distilling Institute and were awarded a Double Gold for our Straight Rye Whiskey at the San Francisco Artisan Spirits.
Our Distillery Opens on September, 2014 featuring a full bar and tours of our facilities.
Putting Houston On The Global Whiskey Map
After multiple years of expansion, we partnered with Zamora in 2017 to share our whiskey with the entire U.S. and beyond. That means our Houston whiskey is now finding a home in cities around the world.
Meet The Team
Michael LanganDistillery Manager
Houston FarrisHead Distiller
Jason VelasquezOperations Manager
Cian McDonnellAssistant Distiller
David HallmanAssistant Distiller
Matt VelasquezAssistant Distiller
Sara McLainYellow Rose Experience Manager
Jason MacalBrand Champion
Yellow RoseHospitality Crew
We’d love to tell you that Head Distiller Houston Farris is a Houston native. But we can’t — because his true story is far more fascinating than any tall Texas tale we might spin.
Although Houston has been a resident of our great city since 2002, his family’s roots run deep in the rich soil of the Rio Grande Valley. By various twists and turns, those same roots also put Houston on the path to becoming a master spirit maker. As he tells it: “My great-grandfather, Vance Raimond, ran the first legal moonshine still in the state of Texas since Prohibition. This was at the Texas Centennial Expo in 1936. He set up on the Midway of the state fairgrounds and attracted a great deal of attention. Unfortunately, that included the IRS, who wasted little time in shutting his operation down!”
Fast-forward three-quarters of a century to 2014. That’s when Houston joined Yellow Rose Distilling as our brand mixologist. While he enjoyed exercising his creativity with our cocktail menu and interacting with fellow whiskey fans in our tasting room, he always harbored grander ambitions. One short year later, Houston started pulling double duty, tending bar by day, and apprenticing in whiskey production at night. After two years of intense study, he had achieved his goal of learning all he could about the “why” and “how” behind quality spirits, earning the title of Yellow Rose’s Head Distiller in the process.
Ask Houston to tell you what he loves most about the job he’s held since 2017, and his passion for whiskey becomes quickly apparent. “Being the first to taste that something special, straight from the barrel and before anyone else in the world,” he says. But, as much as he considers the “the spirit run” — the moment the whiskey starts flowing off of still during its second distillation — a magical experience, Houston also appreciates that it takes grit and meticulous attention to detail to get there.
“Most days are a repeat of the previous,” he explains. “Maintain records. Load the still. Run the still. Make the cuts. Measure the yield. Fill barrels. Taste barrels to see where they are in their maturation timeline. Create blends of barrels by tasting more. Evaluate batches after bottling by tasting even more. But let me tell you: tasting days can wear you out!”
How does Houston stay resilient? The loving support of his family no doubt helps, as does his Eagle Scout training. (Houston continues to carry forward the scouting tradition by serving as a den leader for his son’s Cub Scout pack.) He also does what he can to keep his sense of adventure as keen as his palate. Day trips, urban excursions and travels down Texas’ scenic highways feature prominently on his social calendar.
All in all, Houston embodies the legendary qualities that we’ve celebrated at Yellow Rose since our founding: entrepreneurial daring, independence of thought, a commitment to craft, and a healthy respect for the diverse stories that make up the history of our city and our state. And he expresses this best when he describes what he’s looking for each time he begins a new batch of Yellow Rose Whiskey: “An opportunity to not just repeat success, but improve on it.”