Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co. (Door-chol) of San Antonio, Texas is a small craft spirits and beer maker on a quiet roll. Founded in December of 2013, the distillery’s inaugural spirit, Kinsman Rakia, an apricot brandy with Balkan origins, has been named both the highest rated American brandy (Gold - Chicago, 2014) as well as the world’s highest rated brandy, non-Cognac, (Gold, Best in Category - Los Angeles, 2016) in the three short years since its opening. Yet unless you are in the scene, or paying close attention, you’ve probably never heard of them, despite features in national publications like Playboy and Wine Enthusiast.
Inspired by one of the co-founder’s family’s countryside wine making and distilling tradition in his native Serbia and Croatia, Texas’ first post-Prohibition brandy distillery expanded its spirits production in 2015 to include a Texas-grown grape brandy, first aged in medium toast French-oak barrels and currently finishing in Sherry casks, as well as a single malt whisk(e)y, turning two in their used brandy barrels, similar to Scotch whiskies in the pre-Bourbon era which were often aged in Cognac barrels. This still young, but beautifully maturing single malt whiskey is showing signs of incredibly complex flavors and rich aromas.
The team’s old-World distillation philosophy of using only direct-heat copper pot stills and their choice of aging casks hasn’t helped them on the bottom-line, but it seems to be the right choice in standing out from the sea of mediocrity often found in today’s “craft” spirits.
Expanding into distilling grains, Dorćol introduced HighWheel beers at their two-year anniversary celebration in December 2015. Their four staples, a Kolsch, Saison, Porter and an IPA, are joined by their seasonally brewed Brewer’s Keep series, which has seen the return of the Dunkelweizen for Oktoberfest, along with an Irish Red Ale and a Hefeweizen as the spring and summer seasonals respectively.
“We think that the continued growth we experience comes down to two things,” says Boyan Kalusevic, one of Dorćol’s co-founders, “putting everything we have into making the finest spirits and beers possible, and building relationships with the very best barmen who love what we do.”
In a little more than three years since launch, Dorćol’s spirits and beers are now sold at over a hundred on- and off-premise outlets with the company looking to expand its footprint in each of the major Texas markets. Keeping up with current demand while preparing for expected growth in the number of on-premise outlets across the region is proving to be no easy task for the small team.
Architectural rendering of the tasting-room expansion project
Adding a Second Bar
All this growth required additional space and equipment. As if the production growth and investment weren’t enough for this Texas craft distillery and brewery, Dorćol continues its upward trajectory by doubling down on its arts-centric neighborhood and reinvesting in the Southtown facility by expanding the on-site tasting room and adding a second bar.
San Antonio’s building department recently approved plans and issued construction permits for the use of modified shipping containers for the second bar, as well as a roof structure over the patio; a much desired improvement if you’ve ever visited the downtown cocktail and beer bar on either a summer afternoon or a busy service night. Guests will appreciate both additions to this gem.
Tripling Distilling Capacity
The addition of a second still, a Serbian-made 750-liter direct-heat copper pot, is anticipated to be put on-line by the end of 2017, with their goals for 2018 to include both the introduction of their much-anticipated barrel aged spirits, as well as the ramped up production of new products.
Visiting our third generation copper-smiths, CUPRUM, in Serbia
100% Increase in Brewing Capacity
Dorćol is also adding a 21-barrel fermenter to their brewing capacity. The recently delivered fermenter is in the process of being installed, with the team hoping to have it fully integrated in the brewing operation over the next several weeks.
Arrival of Dorćol’s newest 21 barrel fermenter by BrewBuilt Mfg from California.
“A lot of moving parts come together over the last couple years, from the roll-out of our beer brand to the growing adoption of our spirit at the State’s finest bar programs. It’s been an impressive growth for Dorćol and the pace shows no signs of slowing into 2018,” adds Kalusevic. “We are doubling our fermentation capacity, adding a second custom still to ease the distilling bottleneck, and about to break ground on more on-site space in order to really prepare for the kind of business expansion that our investment in production will afford us. We are very excited, and can’t thank all our fans enough for the continued support.”
Dorćol’s Kinsman Rakia is available Texas-wide with more markets planned for 2018. Expanded distribution of HighWheel beer is planned for mid-2018. Dorćol is located in Southtown, a San Antonio, Texas arts neighborhood south of downtown.