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The whisky pastor of Texas

Wearing dusty green trousers, ruby red cowboy boots and braces over a blue jean shirt, Balcones founder and head distiller Chip Tate addresses a room of captivated listeners. The way he speaks – clearly, logically with power and perfect emphasis – one could mistake him for a pastor, if it weren’t for the outfit.

And, if the fates had been different, Chip could have ended up proselytising about God instead of whisky. Having done a post-grad in Divinity, it was once a possible path in his life.

The way things have gone, however, means he’s now spreading the good word of the dram, rather than that of the Bible. The fact he’s named one of his products Brimstone and another Resurrection may be of note.

Chip is one of those people you can speak with for hours. In fact, my interview with the maker of the only single malt whisky in Texas went so quickly I lost track of time and found myself blurting out a list of questions we’d not gotten to in our hour long chat.

During that time we discussed not only whisky but life, work and the fates, transitioning from one topic to the other as seamlessly as one sip of a good whisky goes down after the next.

But let’s rewind to the beginning of the bottle. As background, Chip started Balcones in 2008. Five years later, with seven products on the market, it’s becoming a bit of a cult whisky producer, with those who love what he’s doing and those who are slightly perplexed (ask people about Brimstone, for instance, and you’ll get a mixed response).

Chip had a varied life path. He studied physics and philosophy as an undergrad, then moved onto divinity [...]

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International Women's Day is about celebrating those wonderful, inspiring women around the world.