Hurricane Tough – A Four Year Retrospective

At Garrison Brothers Distillery, we sincerely believe that good bourbon can change the world. Good bourbon builds rock-solid friendships, can strengthen one’s faith in man and God and creates legendary stories..

To us, good bourbon is more than just a way to raise a glass with friends after a long day. It’s a way to help our communities and pay forward the kindness we have received over the years. To that end, we do our best to help out wherever we can. Whether it’s working to keep the community of Hye clean and healthy, or making hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic, or raising funds for out of work hospitality industry workers, we feel it’s our duty to provide a helping hand when our community is hit by an unexpected disaster.

In August of  2017, the Texas coast was threatened by Hurricane Harvey, a massive Category 4 hurricane. The hurricane cut a swath of destruction across the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States, resulting in 107 confirmed deaths and an estimated $125 billion dollars in damage. It’s currently listed as equal with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest hurricane in American history, and was the most economically-devastating disaster in Texas history.

The Houston area was hit extremely hard, with an estimated 30% of Harris County submerged and over 345,000 houses damaged by the storm. Over a trillion gallons of rain fell over Harris County and some coastal regions were covered in several feet of water. But no matter how bad the situation is, you can always count on Texans to spring into action and work to help those around them. 

In the aftermath of the storm, we saw everything from businesses opening their doors to provide shelter for those who were without homes, to private citizens going out in their trucks and boats to help rescue those stranded by the water. 

Thousands of members of the National Guard, law enforcement, and fire and EMS services worked around the clock to get people to safety. We even had our neighbors from the “Cajun Navy” in Louisiana roaring in to help with relief efforts, performing over 5,000 rescues in Southeast Texas.

Out in the Hill Country, Garrison Brothers Distillery avoided much of the devastation to the east. Though we had to deal with heavy winds and pouring rain, we were extremely fortunate compared to many of our friends across the state. 

On the day that Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, Donnis and the production team had filled nine barrels of bourbon whiskey before operations were forced to shut down for the day. When we came back and reopened the doors after the storm had subsided, those nine barrels were sitting there waiting for us. 

After witnessing everything that happened in the past few days, we knew we couldn’t just shove these barrels into the next bourbon release. These barrels would have a higher purpose. So, with these nine barrels in front of us and a goal in our hearts, we began making some calls and setting up our next initiative with Good Bourbon For A Good Cause.

Good Bourbon For A Good Cause is a 501c3 public charity set up by the Garrison family and other members of the Garrison Brothers team to provide support for causes that are near and dear to our hearts. Over the years, we’ve been involved with various projects, such as aiding in the recovery of Balmorhea State Park, saving the Hye Post office from closure, and creating a safety net for our neighbors in Hye through the Hye Preservation Society. But a large portion of our work is done with our friends at Team Rubicon, a non-governmental organization and nonprofit dedicated to disaster relief efforts across the world. They’ve got the skills, the network, and the volunteer force needed to provide help where it’s needed the most. 


And while they’re bringing the know-how, we’re bringing plenty of world-class bourbon and plenty of friends who are equally devoted to our idea that “good bourbon can change the world.” So we got Team Rubicon on the phone, checked in on what they needed, which was boats, and got to work on a program that could help.

Each of the first 1,000 people who donated $100 to Team Rubicon, we guaranteed a bottle of bourbon dumped from one of those 9 barrels we’d set aside before the storm. In honor of the grit and determination of both those donors and all of those who fought their way through the storm, we decided to name this particular bourbon “Hurricane Tough.”

How did it turn out?

In just 72 hours, friends of Garrison Brothers Distillery across the country rallied and raised a whopping $142,234 for the Hurricane Tough campaign. One of our distribution partners, Republic National Distributing Company, stepped up as well and matched $2 for every bottle of Garrison Brothers bourbon that was sold the year before, contributing another $2,268. This raised the grand total to $144,502, an incredible figure for a three-day fundraiser.  

The most impressive part is, all of those who donated did so with the full knowledge that it would be years before they received anything in return. We had just barreled the bourbon, and it would need to bake in the Texas sun for almost half a decade before we’d be comfortable releasing it. All of the folks who donated knew that this was the case, yet they still stepped up and provided support to a community struggling to recover.

Now, four years later, the Hurricane Tough barrels are ripe and ready to go. Our Master Distiller Donnis Todd has kept a close eye on each of those nine barrels, which have now been dumped and bottled in our custom Hurricane Tough glass. The release day is set for October 16th, and when that day comes, it will be one of our proudest moments to raise a glass with everyone who took it upon themselves to help out those who needed it most during such a terrifying time. Good bourbon, and good people, can change the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about Good Bourbon For A Good Cause and the work they’re continuing to do, please visit this link to see how you can help: