The Trailblazing Women of Desert Door

DesertDoor photo

Desert Door Texas Sotol was founded in 2017 under the leadership of three native Texan entrepreneurs, Judson Kauffman, Ryan Campbell and Brent Looby, and since then, it has grown to be a diverse operation with several female trailblazers leading the charge.

A critical component of the Desert Door brand is the dedication to sustainability when farming the land. In addition to the Desert Door Texas Sotol Original (a straight clear spirit that has bright vanilla and green grass notes on the nose, with toffee, mint and orange zest flavors on the lips) and the Oak-Aged Texas Sotol (akin to a young whiskey, with a rich amber color and pleasing notes of vanilla, cedar and caramel that is the result of aging the Original spirit in virgin white oak barrels for about a year), Desert Door offers an annual release as part of their Conservation Series, which is solely focused on preserving the Texas wild. The Conservation Series helps support Wild Spirit Wild Places (WSWP), a nonprofit established by Desert Door and run for the last 2-plus years by Dr. Karen Looby.

Dr. Looby served a distinguished 30 years in education and research in the Austin Independent School District as a teacher, administrator, professional learning facilitator, researcher and program evaluator before helping to launch WSWP in April 2021. Dr. Looby has served on the board of directors for the HeartGift Foundation since 2019, expertise from which affords her the ability to educate others about the value of Texas lands, facilitate research to support land stewardship and implement effective conservation practices.

“As a native Texan with generational roots, I am well-versed in the importance of both exploring and preserving the state’s wild places and wild things,” said Dr. Looby. “The need to provide direct support to landowners to protect and preserve their diminishing ranches and rangelands through education, research and conservation practices is more imperative than ever, as seen even this summer with unprecedented and extenuating 100-plus-degree heat waves, droughts and more.”

Another woman at the helm is Jessica Alderete, a seasoned professional in the event industry who is currently serving as the Venue and Events Manager of The Rackhouse at Desert Door, a private venue conveniently located at the distillery. An Austin native, Jessica has been with Desert Door since 2019.

“The Rackhouse at Desert Door combines the best of both worlds, offering a unique space for weddings, corporate gatherings, and other special occasions,” said Alderete. “When the opportunity to open The Rackhouse arose, I jumped at the chance to create a beautiful and down to earth space for clients to make memories with their friends and families.”

Desert Door’s most recent addition to the team, senior marketing manager Mylynn Vong, has more than four years of experience in influencer marketing, celebrity and talent relations, social media strategy, and brand marketing. Vong joined the team in August 2023 to help push brand recognition both locally and nationally, as the Desert Door name continues to push outward into new markets across the United States.

For more information on Desert Door Distillery, please visit Follow the brand on Facebook at @desertdoorsotol and on Instagram at @desertdoor. Visit the Distillery at 211 Darden Hill Rd, Driftwood, TX 78619.

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