Bartletts Distillery: Conroe’s first craft distillery offers tastings, tours

Image description
Bartletts Distillery
Image description
Bartletts Distillery
For former mechanical engineer Van Brackin, making hand-crafted alcohol is simple. Owning and operating Bartletts Distillery, on the other hand, is a challenge, he said.

“[People have] been making distilled spirits for hundreds of years without much technology,” he said. “You can get very technical with it, but at its core it’s a very simple process. Where the real work comes in is on the business side.”

Prior to debuting Conroe’s only craft spirit distillery, The Woodlands resident worked for 20 years as a mechanical engineer in the oil and gas industry. In 2012, he learned about distilling spirits from colleagues and immediately became interested.

When Brackin was laid off from the oil and gas industry in 2015 due to the industry’s downturn, he began researching the distilling process more earnestly. Because he already had experience brewing beer at home, Brackin said he felt confident he could handle brewing spirits.

“What I’ve seen is craft spirits are starting to take off now like craft beer did 20 years ago,” Brackin said. “People want local products. They want to be involved. They want to go and see the place to see how this stuff is made.”

Brackin began bottling spirits in July in Conroe near FM 3083. Bartletts Distillery offers Saturday tours for $10, where visitors can learn about distilling craft whiskey and rum and enjoy tastings of the spirits.

From the distillery’s on-site tasting room, which opened July 28, tour groups can also purchase mixed beverages or a bottle of his unaged White Dog Whiskey or silver rum. The more mature spirits—such as the upcoming gold rum, dark rum and single malt whiskey—require months of aging.

Brackin expects the distillery to feature new rums in as little as three months, and he intends to build up the inventory to begin selling his spirits wholesale to Conroe-area businesses. Bartletts Silver Rum will be available in select liquor stores in Conroe in September.

“I want to contribute to the local economy and build us into something that makes Montgomery County proud,” Brackin said.
By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.


As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

Councilmember Julie Davis, second from right, argued for a 20% homestead exemption. (Screenshot via Montgomery City Council livestream)
Montgomery adopts 20% tax break on homestead property taxes

Some tension arose when Council Member Julie Davis said that the city has spent thousands of dollars on “goats and walkie-talkies."

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Residents voiced concerned about the proposed Colliers Pointe development at Conroe's City Council workshop July 21. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Concern over Conroe's proposed Colliers Pointe development continues

Residents raised concerns about safety, flooding and access roads to the community.

A COVID-19 vaccine dose is administered to a person's arm
Montgomery County sees July increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Active COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County climbed above 1,000 for the first time in two months, just after June recorded the lowest active cases since 2020.

Jacqueline Myers opened her gluten-free restaurant Broth and Brine in December 2020. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Gut health' priority at Conroe gluten-free restaurant, Broth and Brine Dedicated Craft Kitchen

Jacqueline Myers said she spent 20 years studying autism and the relationship between what she calls “gut health” and brain disorders.

The mural will be placed in Heritage Place Park. (Courtesy Conroe Art League)
Conroe seeking muralist for downtown project

The Conroe 360 Class has agreed to use a classmate's sketch of a train as a base design for the mural.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

Houston unemployment is above state and national levels, while home sales in the region continue to be strong, according to a July 21 economic update from the Greater Houston Partnership. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment, strong housing sales mark 2021 Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership says

While Houston job recovery lags due to the pandemic, area home sales are strong, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Conroe ISD provided recommendations for a safer return for the 2021-22 school year. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe ISD sets COVID-19 policies for 2021-22 school year

The "Roadmap to Remaining Open" states policies and provides recommendations for students and faculty to better prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the district.

Home prices continue to increase, according to local real estate data. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
DATA: All Conroe, Montgomery ZIP codes see home sales increase year over year

One ZIP code saw a 78% increase in number of homes sold.