Owner, Hill Country Distillers
Photography By Sarah Brooke Lyons
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
We do not use typical ingredients to make our distilled spirits. Most of our alcohol is made from prickly pear cactus, the green pads, so the basic flavor profile is between a tequila and a vodka. The other ingredient we ferment into alcohol is jalapeno peppers. It makes a very unique spirit of jalapeno flavor but without the spice or heat. Both of these spirits fall into the category of “Specialty Distilled Spirit.” We also make a gin and several flavors of liqueurs from the prickly pear cactus spirit. We currently create ten different products.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It is great to see the reaction when people enjoy our products and their surprise at how they are made. When we go to an event in another city and people tell us our cocktails are their favorite, well, that just doesn’t get old to hear.
What career path led you to where you are today?
I can’t say one, in particular; however, I have always been in male-dominated fields such as telecommunications and construction. My parents raised me to not be intimidated easily. So being in a male-dominated industry like distilling hasn’t bothered me at all in that aspect.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Hard work pays off.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with family, trying new cocktails and restaurants, reading and quiet time. I get addicted to online jigsaw puzzles!!!
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am an introvert. I am comfortable in small groups, but I tend to blend into the woodwork in larger groups. I do, however, make my voice heard when it is important such as on legislative issues that directly affect my business and life. I have spent lots of time over the past 30 years in both Washington DC and Austin on a variety of issues.
What is the most inspirational book you have read this year?
I can’t think of any one book in particular. I read lots of mystery and thrillers. I definitely enjoy books with people that defeat the odds.
Who has influenced you the most in your life or career?
I have been blessed to have several great role models, both male and female, from my parents, who always told us we could do anything we set out mind to, and several bosses that were supportive and provided great opportunities to grow.
Hill Country Distillers
723 Front St., Comfort, TX 78013