Chip Tate, founder of Balcones Distilling, is a decent, hard-working and honest man that has a world-renown talent for crafting exceptional whisky and other distilled spirits. In 2008, Chip founded Balcones Distillery with little more than a few dollars and the goodwill of friends. He welded and pounded out his own copper stills and breathed new life into an old welding shop under the 17th Street Bridge in Waco, Texas. In just a short time with Chip at the helm, Balcones Distilling managed to rack up 134 national and international awards including the Icons of Whisky Award (2012 and 2014), Grand Master of World Whiskey and Best American Whisky Overall in the World Whisky Awards just to name a few. As a result, Balcones products have become a rare commodity, and the distillery continues to struggle to keep up with the world's appetite for its truly inspirational products.
Since early last year, Chip had even more to get excited about. After six years of working out of a tiny, 1,500-square foot space, building a new distillery finally seemed within reach. A beautiful, brick building built in 1923 with over 60,000 square feet of room promised to be the new home of Balcones Distillery. After two years of planning and careful engineering, Chip and Balcones Distilling were finally ready to begin renovating the building back to its former glory and see whisky flow through its veins. Chip and crew partnered with the talented, fourth-generation coppersmiths at Forsyths, to create some truly amazing stills, which would allow them to not only make better whisky, but more of it too.
Dark Clouds Looming
All of this hard work has made for a seemingly bright future, but dark clouds loom on the horizon. Chip is very proud to have built the distillery from so little. But having limited funding has always restricted Chip's ability to keep up with demand. Recently, Chip invited an investing group into Balcones Distilling to help him fund the construction of the new distillery, but they have brought more than money to the table--a "big business" corporate mentality that has proved to be at odds with what Chip had envisioned the distillery to be.
Nonetheless, Chip tried to work with this new, investor mindset and avoid conflict at nearly any cost. But despite rebuilding the current distillery last year to triple production levels in the same 1,500-square foot space, all of the tremendous successes since their investment, and likely endless hours of meetings and negotiations, this new investment group proved relentless in their attempts to remove the Head Distiller, Chip. On August 5th, these investors brought Sheriff's deputies to the distillery to have Chip removed, and he has been away from the distillery ever since. When he would not resign his presidential powers, they attempted to use the courts. Even now, the investors are putting out bottles of Balcones products that Chip never blended while putting his name on the bottle.
After many months of trying to help these new investors understand the artistic craft and culture they had chosen to be a part of, these investors seemed to be trying to push out the Founder, President and Head Distiller from the business at any cost. Chip and the other artists that make and shape the whisky every day are the very heart and soul of the distillery and are what gives the brand meaning and value. Without them, we believe Balcones has no future. We don't know about ya'll, but we want to keep drinking Balcones products, created with Chip Tate at the helm, for years to come.
We refuse to believe that we will allow Balcones' story to end with such heartbreak. Chip needs our help to defend himself against the lawsuits the investors have filed against him before it's too late.
All funds raised will go directly towards Chip's legal defense. All funds raised in excess of what is necessary for legal defense will go towards buying back the distillery from the investors or, God forbid, helping Chip start a new distillery.
Help raise us funds for Chip's legal defense!
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