Special Report: The Original Texas Legend Distillery

In a tiny 1,400-square-foot building on Simmons Drive in Orange a legend was born.

It's home to The Original Texas Legend Distillery, and it was started 2 years ago by former ExxonMobil employee turned distiller Thomas Germann.

"I basically sold all my stock, pulled my retirement and I'm all in as they say," Germann told 12News in an exclusive interview.

Using his knowledge of chemical processes, Germann spent weeks testing different grains until he had a recipe for a vodka he was proud to call his own.

"I got my hands on every grain that I could find. I tried blending them to see how the flavor profiles stacked and they stacked perfectly."

His brand goes by the name "Troubadour" after Texas musician and close friend Jake Russell.

"Russell is often referred to as one of the true Texas troubadours, so when I was asking people for names Jake's wife said 'Hey how about Troubadour?'" Germann said.

Months before  production, Germann knew he needed help, so he asked friend Bill Manning and Bill's wife Kate to help run the distillery. Little did Germann know that he had something special boiling in his still.

"We expected that we would sell a small amount, and our very first order I met with a guy from Spec's and he told me 'Ok we'll give you a shot,'" Germann explained. "And I guess after sampling the product, when they sent their first order over I said 'How many cases would you like?' and they said 'All of it.'"

"The taste of it was very smooth, one of the smoothest ones out there," said Spec's of Beaumont sales manager Jim Francis. "We can't keep it stocked on the shelves, he is that good. Between what he's doing, being local, we can't keep stock of it."

"Everything we make goes straight out the door. And we knew real quick we needed to expand and start upsizing our equipment to try to keep up," Germann said.

So Germann bought a 300 gallon fermenter to supplement his original 60 gallon one, but says it's still a struggle today trying to meet the demand. Now with a bourbon out and a blended whiskey in the works, it's not uncommon for he and the others to work 20 hour days trying to get close to 1,000 bottles signed, sealed and delivered each week.

"We're making something that the people love, and that's pretty cool," said distiller Kate Manning.

Germann plans to double the size of the distillery and hire new employees in the near future, but has no intention of leaving Southeast Texas.

"The outpour of support from the community has just been huge. It's nothing like we expected," he said.

"It's kind of like a dream. Everybody's thought of going off and starting their own liquor industry, he's actually done it," said Francis.
Although the road to success was a long and difficult one, Germann says it's all been worth it.

"When you work hard at something you enjoy seeing it come to fruition. You enjoy meeting the people that you get to along the way and see people enjoy something that you produce. It's very fulfilling," he said.

Germann recently wrote a book called "How To Start a Micro-Distillery For Under $50,000." It's currently available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble bookstores.  



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