Home on the Range with Treaty Oak Distilling Co.

Home on the Range with Treaty Oak Distilling Co.


Treaty Oak Distilling’s founder Daniel Barnes is not afraid to let his staff get creative. “Daniel gives us a lot of free reign to do experiments,” says General Manager Tony Gonzalez.   

This exploration includes ingredient selection, distilling practices, and unusual finishing techniques like burying barrels underground. The Treaty Oak team keeps what works and lets go of the rest, forging ahead confidently as they have throughout their varied careers.

The staff includes quite a cast of characters, including folks that have “searched for oil, designed buildings, cooked over campfires, served in the military, created art, played rock and roll,” according to Treaty Oak’s website. 

“We strive to strike the perfect balance between heritage and innovation.  Our willingness to be different based on knowledge and expertise is what sets us apart,” says Barnes.

No stranger to the hospitality industry as the son of restaurant owners and a trained sommelier, Barnes wasted no time opening his own distillery after Texas made it legal to do so in the early 2000s. 

Treaty Oak was just the fourth legal distillery to open in the state, and the company has now successfully expanded to a sprawling 28-acre ranch 45 minutes west of Austin.  The historic property has roots in the wild pioneer days of the Texas frontier, and it retains an adventurous charm to this day.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sitting in the shade of ancient oak trees, enjoying a classic barbecue dish, and gazing out over Texas Hill Country, you might forget that you are, in fact, surrounded by a large-scale distilling operation. That feeling of warmth and relaxation is by design. 

Treaty Oak wants you to feel like part of the family, and the whole ranch is set up to make you feel at home. 

How many distilleries out there can boast regular kid-friendly events, complete with hay rides, games, and s’mores by the bonfire?  Even dogs are welcome to join the fun at Treaty Oak. 

At their annual Kite Festival, the distillery hosts up to 7,000 people who come to enjoy Texas barbecue, sample craft spirits, and of course, fly kites. 

Beyond the distillery itself, the ranch includes a cocktail lab, food truck, live music stage, rickhouse for barrel storage, and Alice’s restaurant, named after the company’s beloved matriarch.

A Commitment to Excellence

Treaty Oak’s whiskey lineup includes grain-to-glass whiskey and bourbon, a small-batch rye, and several ready-to-drink craft cocktails.

“Ghost Hill Bourbon Whiskey is our grain-to-glass bourbon whiskey. This is a Texas bourbon whiskey through and through. It’s meant to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks to appreciate the flavor of the whiskey itself as an experience,” says Distillery Operations Manager Jason Stein.  

As part of its commitment to “distilling disruptive ideas,” Treaty Oak partners with Kelvin Cooperage, a Kentucky barrel maker that is always up for experimentation.

According to Treaty Oak, “one of the defining points of their process is that they toast the barrel before they char, creating a better caramelization of the oak.”

The unique partnerships don’t end there.  Treaty Oak’s operation has the unusual distinction of hosting an on-site grain mill. Barton Springs Mill, led by a James Beard-award winning miller, is a leader in the heirloom grain movement and a key driver in the creation of Treaty Oak’s innovative flavor profiles.  

Sustainable to the Core

When it comes to sustainability, the staff works hard to keep a lot of balls in the air. The team oversees initiatives that reduce water and energy use, protect the land, and encourage local product sourcing. Ninety percent of Treaty Oak’s grains are grown by Texas farmers using sustainable practices, and spent grain is turned into livestock feed, compost, or dog treats. The company dramatically reduces its carbon footprint by milling grains on-site, which is a major point of pride.  

It’s a lot to manage, but there’s no plan to stop anytime soon.. 

A goal for the company is to continue to integrate their processes into those nature has established in terms of water, energy, and waste. Treaty Oak believes it is possible to blend economy with ecology in the pursuit of the curious.

Come for the Hospitality, Stay for the Whiskey 

If you ever find yourself in Texas Hill Country, Founder Daniel Barnes would love to welcome you to a place he hopes will feel like home.  Enjoy some Texas barbecue, kick your heels up to a bluegrass band, tour the inner workings of the distillery, and by all means, accept Treaty Oak’s invitation to “drink like you give a damn” by sampling some of their mouth-watering Texas whiskey.

“You have to experience it to really appreciate how much we have and how cool everything is out here,” says Stein. 

This month, RackHouse is featuring two Treaty Oak Distillery bourbon whiskeys.

What’s in the box


Day Drinker Texas Bourbon

With an inviting aroma of vanilla sugar cookies and maple syrup, The Day Drinker's silky texture carries notes of kettle corn, wheat, and mild nutmeg and cinnamon. Where most aged whiskeys boast rich wood sugars and complex flavors brought on by the charred barrel, this young 1 year aged bourbon features the Texas corn and wheat that makes this juice so special.

Age = at least 12 months

Casks = Aged under the hot Texas sun in first use American white oak char 3 barrels

Mash Bill = 57% corn, 32% wheat, 11% barley

ABV = 80 proof


Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon 

Named after Treaty Oak's 28-acre ranch home in Dripping Springs, Texas, Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon is an award-winning whiskey made with local heirloom grains from Barton Springs Mill. A genuine grain-to-glass bourbon, it is mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged 2 years and bottled on-site at their distillery. Ghost Hill is a bourbon born of years of purposeful experimentation. 

Age = at least 12 months

Casks = Aged under the hot Texas sun in first use American white oak char 3 barrels

Mash Bill = 57% corn, 32% wheat, 11% barley

ABV = 95 proof

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