San Antonio Distillery is now open for business


GONZALES — Bruce Harborth had a dream that one day he would continue in his ancestor’s footsteps and somehow launch his own rum distillery.

He teamed up with a kindred spirit—his relative Jeremiah Dempsey—and the two hatched a wonderful idea. Why not distill their own rum, and do it in Gonzales, Texas?

So they did it. The result is the opening of the San Antonio distillery on St. Paul Street in downtown Gonzales. The two men, along with Jeremiah’s wife Catherine, opened their doors last weekend to start serving up their own homemade rum recipe.

“My family has a long history of making rum, going back generations to my great, great grandparents. They used to raise sugar cane in the Valley, and of the things they made from it was rum. It is a family tradition, and I have always dreamed of doing that someday.

“Then I was talking to Jeremiah, and his side of the family has a lot of history in, let’s say, ‘homemade brewing and distilling techniques’ so we decided to make it a reality.”

They purchased the building on St. Paul Street, went through the licensing process, began renovations on the building and began the process of distilling.

“Jeremiah is the expert behind the distilling process,” Harborth said. “He is actually a genius. He has come up with a dynamite recipe that contains only products made right here in Texas. Nothing in this rum comes from outside this state, and I think we have hit on the right combination.”

According to Harborth, the only thing he uses out of state are the oak barrels that the rum ages in.

“There is a great story behind our barrels,” Harborth said. “We wanted to find the right combination of oak that would hold our recipe while still giving it an extra special taste. I found a specific type of oak tree barrel that are made from oak trees in one forest in France—and that’s where our barrels come from. No one will ever be able to match our taste—I am so proud of what we have found.”

Harborth is a very proud Texan. His family came to the state in 1860 and were of German stock. They settled in the valley as ranchers and farmers. The rum-distilling passion started with a great, great grandfather, Adolf Charles Harborth. The rest is history.

“We are only going to be open on the weekend nights at first,” Harborth said. “We are still putting finishing touches on the distilling room and we are making a food court out back for down the road.

“Our hope is that once we really get rolling, we’ll be able to give back to the community and bring more people to stay in our town. Heck, someday I can even see us doing our own beer and vodka here too.

“But Gonzales will always be our home."