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Waco whiskey business could give major tourism boost


You may not know it, but Waco is home to some of the best whiskey in the world.

According to its web site, Balcones Distillery recently won the 2014 World Whisky of the Year. The Waco based business that sits underneath the 17th street bridge also took home a number of other awards including the World Single Malt of the year. This was in a judge-based competition with whiskies from Scotland and England.

Chip Tate started up this distillery in 2008 in a 2,000 square foot facility. Now he's expanding into a much larger building. Balcones will take over the Texas Fireproof Storage building on 11th Street, near downtown. When it's finished, Tate believes it could bring in nearly 100 tourists a day.

That traffic combined with a worldwide reputation, makes the city very happy.

"The reputation they have around the world is great for Waco. The more people hear about the fantastic products that they're making the more people hear that's made right here in Waco, Texas. That's good for business," Chris McGowan with the Waco Chamber of Commerce said.

Tate says he's already bringing in visitors to his much smaller location and the new building could bring in even more.

"We have a number of tourists come through now, we have to kind of limit that," Tate said.

Tate listed a number of plans to entertain his future guests including a gift shop and walk throughs that let visitors see all the barrels age his world renowned whiskey.

The facility will also hold much larger distillers so they can make more whiskey at one time. Tate says he will keep the older building so they can experiment on different whiskies.  

What separates his whiskey from others around the world though? Well Tate says he's been surprised by their amount of success and it's partly because the quality of water. Balcones comes from the name of the geological region they get their water from.

"It's a lot of things. I think it's trying to do something new and innovative. Making sure your building on top of solid knowledge and tradition first and add innovation second. Maybe add a little good luck and a whole lot of heart and that's what we like to think has gotten us so far," Tate said.

Tate also says he chose this new location for a reason. It's very close to downtown and he says it's important to him to be a part of the development of that area. That's something the city loves as well. 

For the Chamber, though, it's about how Balcones' success brings many good things for them as well. For Tate, it's all about his liquid gold.  

"We're trying to really found the Texas whiskey tradition, and so who knows if we'll get there. So far so good," Tate said.

Tate says they could finish renovations by the first half of 2015.

If you'd like to buy a bottle, you can go to Balcones web site by clicking here.

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