Founders Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, and head distiller Rob Arnold joined to share a piece of Texas with their drinkers. Each bottle of whiskey is uniquely crafted with tradition, science, and ingenuity.
Distiller and Proprietor
My dad owns and operates a multi-award winning “culinary tavern” in Maryland, and I have fond childhood memories of harvesting grapes at my uncle’s California vineyard, so I suppose I was destined to become involved in the food and beverage business. It just took me awhile to realize it.
I graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and out of college was an advance man for President George H. W. Bush – a distinct and memorable honor. I then had an incredible internship with the PGA Tour until I landed an exciting job in Washington, D.C. with a company that operates local television stations around the country. It was a privilege to work with this first-class company for about ten years, and in my last few years there I enjoyed launching a station in Jacksonville, Florida.
Managing that station really gave me the entrepreneurial bug. Being single and pretty young, it seemed like a good time to make a run of it. My two brothers were also thinking about new careers, so we decided to start a company together. We spent a few crazy years in New York City, preparing to launch our cable television network, when we learned about a deal in Fort Worth that would help jump-start our distribution efforts. I had no idea what to expect when I moved here in 2002, but I immediately fell in love with the city and the people here. And, most importantly, I met and fell in love with my wife.
It was while my brothers and I were building our new business that a friend introduced me to a new vodka brand from Colorado. I found the product unique and incredibly good, and was astonished to discover it was handcrafted by a local distiller. Intrigued, I began investigating the craft distilling industry – and felt like I’d found my calling. By the time my brothers and I sold our company in 2007, my interest in handcrafted spirits had jumped from curiosity to obsession.
Since then, Troy and I have worked hard to get our distillery up and running. We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to create quality, handcrafted spirits for you. We look forward to seeing you at the distillery soon.
Distiller and Proprietor
As a third generation Texan, I started my career where my family’s roots were – in the oil business. But I’d always had a deep appreciation for fine craftsmanship and all things handmade.
So, after earning my business degree from Texas Tech University and marrying my junior high school sweetheart, I spent 10 successful years on the financial side of the energy business – primarily in private equity and corporate finance. My responsibilities included fundraising, personnel management and operations evaluation for over 20 different portfolio companies ranging in size from $10 million to over $1 billion. It was this experience that solidified my entrepreneurial drive.
But really, I always felt more at home in jeans and boots than in a suit and cap-toed shoes. I had an innate desire to work with my hands and to truly build a business – and a product – from scratch. During my career in oil and gas I started noticing the evolution of micro and craft beers popping up, and loved trying new and innovative brews. Along the way, I had also learned to appreciate whiskey and began sampling different styles and brands.
It wasn’t until a few micro-distilleries crossed my radar that true euphoria set in. My excitement was not for the distilleries I was reading about, but for an idea I couldn’t shake – to build a whiskey distillery in Fort Worth. That was in 2008. From that moment on, I was reading anything I could find on distilling and whiskey (which wasn’t much) and then began reaching out to the distilling community for insight and knowledge. It was at this point Leonard and I crossed paths.
Whiskey is unlike any other spirit – it’s a sense of place, with heritage and complexity. Every whiskey has an elaborate personality and story few others can match. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
As a native of Louisville, Kentucky with an uncle and grandfather who worked in the bourbon industry, I grew up around the distilling world. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s in microbiology, I enrolled in a doctorate program in biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where I studied microbial fermentation and analytical chemistry.
While working on my Ph.D, I became increasingly interested in applying my education to both the art and science of making whiskey. Two years into the doctorate program, I was seriously considering leaving the medical research field to pursue my real passion. I enjoy science and discovering new things in the lab, but what really got me excited was the prospect of making a Texas whiskey. Around this time, I learned about Troy and Leonard’s new venture, so I gave them a call. As fate would have it, they were looking for a Head Distiller and told me they would love to visit with me. After they described their vision for a Fort Worth whiskey distillery, and specifically the equipment and production processes they intended to use, I decided to leave school early with a master’s degree and join the F&R team in September 2011.