Fall Creek resident Joseph Breda and his new company, Old Humble Distillery, based in Humble, produced 850 bottles of 18-month, oak barrel-aged bourbon in 2016. The bourbon is currently sold at Specs and the Liquor Cabinet in Kingwood. Breda said his goal is to make the “best damn bourbon in Texas.”
The two varieties of bourbon they produce, Boomtown Bourbon ($55) and Roughneck Reserve ($50), are different than mainstream bourbon because it is all made in small batches on site, he said.
“We make every drop of it by hand through our stills. We control the entire process, including what goes into the barrels and what comes out of the barrels. We use a tri-grain recipe that is a variation on the theme of Kentucky bourbon, but we use more corn so it gives us a little bit of a sweeter flavor,” said Breda.
The process to make bourbon is somewhat lengthy.
“Bourbon is 50 percent corn. To make a batch, we will buy 150 pounds of corn and grind it into meal. Then we boil the meal until the starch loosens up, cool it and add wheats, like barley, rye, or malt, depending on which variety we are making. Then we bring it to not quite a boil to release the starch in the malted barley, which kick starts the fermentation process. After it comes back to room temperature we add brewers’ yeast, then let it sit and ferment a few days until it turns into a whisky wash, basically unhopped beer. We take that and put it in the still and slowly bring the temperature up until the alcohol boils. The still separates the liquids that boil at different temperatures. The alcohol goes up in to the still column, condenses and drips out. We take the alcohol that comes out, cut that down and put it in five-gallon barrels to age for eighteen months. Then we bottle it and sell it,” said Breda.
Breda opened Old Humble Distillery this past May, but has been producing bourbon since 2013 along with a business partner at Big Thicket Distilling Company in Conroe. He recently bought out his partner and moved the operation to North Main Street in Humble. Breda is a long-time resident of Humble, having moved here in 1980. He went to Oaks Elementary, Atascocita Middle School and graduated from Humble High School in 1993 before heading to the University of Houston for a bachelor’s degree in business management and an MBA in consulting and finance. Breda runs the distillery and works full-time at Regents Bank as a trust manager. He lives with his wife, who is a teacher at Ridge Creek Elementary, and two young sons in Fall Creek.
He noted that over the past several years, the bourbon scene in Texas has exploded.
“There were about seven bourbon makers 10 years ago, and now there are over 50. We are competing with Yellow Rose, BJ Hookers, Firestone and a lot of other bourbon makers,” he said.
What is in store? Breda has big goals. He is hoping that in 2017, the Old Humble Distillery will sell five to 10 times the amount of bourbon they sold in 2016.