TreyMark BlackEyed Vodka arrives by way of Muleshoe, Texas and Fort Worth.
Muleshoe, Texas, while not quite within the geographic distinction of the Panhandle, is close enough to share the area’s noteworthy characteristics: rolling plains, rich soil ideal for agriculture, and expansive pastures that teem with livestock. The Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge preserves the native environment of the South Plains, a unique ecological area where the Great Plains reach their highest altitude. Against this breathtaking backdrop begins the journey of Fort Worth’s newest craft spirit: TreyMark BlackEyed Vodka.
TreyMark’s signature libation developed, in a sense, out of necessity. Founder Trey Nickels first began to manage his family’s farms near Muleshoe at the age of 14. Black eyes have comprised the family crop since 1995.
“We were looking for something else to do with a dry, edible bean,” says Trey. “They don’t have that big of a market, just once a year, and we wanted to capitalize on another outlet for the black eyes.”
The vagaries of Mother Nature also inspired Trey, along with his mother and business partner, Deborah, to think outside of the box.
“With Mother Nature, you can’t depend on growing a successful crop year after year,” says Trey. “We needed a consumable product that we could sell year round, and it turned out to be vodka.”
The decision to transform black-eyed peas into a craft liquor placed Trey, Deborah, and friend and investor Dalton Pope into wholly uncharted territory.
“It had never been done before,” says Trey. “There was a lot of trial and error and lots of homework.”
The learning process took Trey and his team to Wisconsin, where they studied distillation techniques, and back to the distillery they constructed just two blocks from Fort Worth’s Rahr Brewery. The TreyMark team decided early on that to do it at all, they would have to do it right, which meant the local sourcing of all ingredients and handmade craftsmanship at every step of the process.
says Dalton. “We do everything on site, including the creation of our neutral grain spirits. We do not shortcut the process by using pre-manufactured ethanol.”
In addition to TreyMark’s fidelity to detail, the vodka derives singular characteristics from its unusual source: the black-eyed pea.
“Usually when you use a straight grain, you get a really hot alcohol burn,” says Trey. “The peas cover up that burn to give the vodka a vanilla-type finish.”
Like other fine vodkas, TreyMark BlackEyed shines all on its own, straight-up with no chaser. The liquor boasts nutty undertones, and has none of the harsh burn traditionally associated with vodka.
“We advocate sampling TreyMark as a sipping vodka,” says Deborah Nickels. “We encourage people to know what they’re drinking, and if you sample various vodkas in their raw state, you’ll really notice the difference.”
TreyMark BlackEyed Vodka (www.nickelsdistilling.com) is available for purchase at Liq-O-Rama and King’s Liquors. If you want to sample your new favorite vodka, it’s also available behind the bar at the Woodshed, Little Red Wasp, Dagwood’s and Fred’s. Trey, Deborah and Dalton are in the process of expanding TreyMark’s availability, so if your favorite watering hole doesn’t yet have it, simply put in a request.