If you think Hatchimals have been hard to find this holiday season, well, that’s child’s play.
Try going on a hunt for TX Bourbon.
Fort Worth’s first straight bourbon, which has been five years in the making, had a breathtaking debut on a chilly Saturday a week and a half ago. That’s when more than 1,000 people lined up at the Firestone & Robertson distillery near downtown to buy one bottle each.
The silky smooth whiskey with a distinctly Texas pedigree arrived in stores later that week, and more lines formed, with only the earliest of birds snagging a bottle of the limited-release liquor.
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“As soon as we opened, it was gone,” said Allyssa Messer, a cashier at the Specs on Hulen Street in Fort Worth. “The people who got that first batch were thrilled. Those who didn’t figure that (people would line up) were more bummed out, because they really wanted it for the holidays.
“But it hasn’t discouraged them from coming in, or still asking about it,” she said.
Lately, whenever the phone rings at Chicotksy’s Liquor and Fine Wine, the owner knows what’s coming next.
“Every other call, maybe even more than that, is about TX Bourbon,” said Robert Chicotsky, laughing. “There’s a lot of demand, but not a lot of supply.”
F&R had anticipated at most 300 people would show up at the distillery on Dec. 12 to buy a bottle. But they were overwhelmed by the response, said co-owner Leonard Firestone.
The first thirsty soul got there at 6:30 a.m. for a noon opening. Eventually, sales that day were capped at 750. But that cut into the number of bottles going out to stores in TX’s first wave.
Although some of the bigger retail outlets like Specs received about 10 cases, or 60 bottles, many smaller stores had to make do with a couple of cases. At Chicotsky’s, a neighborhood store on West Seventh Street, it was less.
“We got a bottle or two and just kept ’em,” Chicotsky said. “It’s really good stuff. They aged it for almost five years, so that’s a testament to them, waiting till the product was ready to go.”
Customers will have to wait, many beyond the holidays.
“People will just have to be patient,” said Chicotsky, who has about 150 names and e-mails on a waiting list. “In a month or two’s time, there’ll be plenty to get. But right now it’s limited.”
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is the distributor for TX Bourbon and F&R’s popular TX Whiskey. Mike McLaughlin, president for the company’s central region, said: “I haven’t really seen anything here that has gotten this much attention.
“That goes back to how strong the brand is,” he added. “Especially here locally. That multiplies the impact of it.”
Southern Glazer’s reps have gotten used to taking their share of TX Bourbon calls, too.
“The feedback from stores is two-fold: They want to know ‘How much do we get, and when do we get more?’ ” McLaughlin said Wednesday. “When something is hot and limited, people are always going to ask for more. … But with bourbon, it’s not like there’s an endless supply.”
Even the owners don’t necessarily know the answer to the 90-proof question: When will there be more to buy?
“We are humbled and thankful for your interest in TX Bourbon. We are also thrilled to hear the positive reviews,” A message on their Facebook page reads. “Unfortunately, we’ve sold out of our entire stock at the distillery. … As we don’t control our distribution, we won’t know which specific stores you’ll be able to find it in.”
They urge followers to sign up for the F&R newsletter for updates.
For desperate, last-minute holiday shoppers, McLaughlin of Southern Glazer’s suggested a TX Bourbon scavenger hunt could be the only way to find a bottle.
“I’d start calling liquor stores, get on their list, or make a quick run around to the biggest retailers,” he said.
And, when in doubt, there’s always TX Whiskey, F&R’s popular blend, which was named America’s Best Craft Whiskey in 2013.
If you’re still hunting for a Hatchimal when you read this, you’ll probably need a shot or two.