A distiller steeped in tradition with a curiosity for new evolutions of the product has its sights on Houston’s First Ward for its home.
Fox & Seeker is a distillery focused on quality for the consumer while seeking new boundaries.
Andrew Thompson, a Heights resident, and Sean Anger began their journey by home brewing craft beer. But with a passion for the spirits and an open market for a Houston distillery, the two decided to focus their energy into establishing Fox & Seeker. In all there are five partners behind the business, with Thompson and Anger at the helm as managing partners.
“We’re doing neutral spirits, so vodka, gin, [and] whiskey down the road. Clearly there’s a little bit of a lead time on whiskey, but the goal is to become Houston’s and Texas’s leading distillery,” Thompson said.
The name of the company comes from their vision for the distillery and a little bit of family history.
Foxes by nature are adventurous and outgoing. It also just so happens that Thompson is a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, who is also known to have worn a fox cap.
“From a business standpoint we’re always going to be exploring new things and utilizing what nature gives us to make the best product for the consumer,” Anger said.
The Seeker side is about never settling and always looking forward. They want to push beyond the norm and put something out there that no one has tried before. This element of the business also has a tie to Anger, whose great grandfather was an inventor.
“I think that seeker element, for Sean and I, and those of us involved in this, that’s what really speaks to what we’re trying to do.
We’re seeking new boundaries, trying to do some new things,” Thompson said. “Our spirits are initially going to be very traditional style spirits, then once we get established we’re going to be looking to do some new takes on those traditional spirits…the seeker element to us speaks to our approach to life and how we want to approach the business.”
Both Thompson and Anger have a technical background, which is helpful to them in this venture into the distilling world because there is a lot of carry over from something like process engineering to distilling.
“If you look at the history of distilling you can go back thousands of years, it’s a very ancient process. You’re applying heat, separating out chemicals and purifying the chemicals. That process goes back to ancient Greece and ancient Middle East where they were really looking at ways, whether it be alchemy or through ancient medicinal techniques, to purify things,” Thompson said.
The team has known each other for years, having spent a lot of time together running and competing in triathlons. They realized they had a lot of common interests and when the idea for the business began to form they recognized that their skills combined would benefit each other.
“I went to school at Virginia Tech, which is a bourbon college. Everywhere you go there’s a bourbon influence in everything. So, I had an affinity for bourbon, Andrew had and affinity for whiskeys, but mostly gin at the time,” Anger said.
Fox & Seeker has been in the works for a few years and now Thompson and Anger are gearing up to sign a lease in First Ward, be ready to go by the end of this year, and begin production in January 2019.
A major philosophy behind the company is transparency and authenticity in promotion of a close connection to the community.
Thompson and Anger want to be able to share every step of the journey and to let the people of the community know how the process is going, while giving them a peak behind the scenes of what goes into a spirit that’s home-grown.
The pair mentioned how easy it is to be duped by a bottle off the shelf, even when it’s a good product. There are companies that may buy a product from Ohio but rebottle it as if it was made in Texas.
“It’s not that these products are bad in any way, it’s just we want to be an open book for anyone curious about the industry, the process, the product,” Anger said. “We ourselves want to be connected to the community, but we also want to connect them with where that product came from.”
As much as they are able, the company wants to be able to connect the community to the farmers who grow the sugar, or the grain that goes into the product, or the glassmakers that create the bottles. In that they have a part in supplying something that people can sit around the table and enjoy.
The initial products launching will be a London dry style of gin and a vodka. Quickly behind that Fox & Seeker will be putting out a seasonal gin. Juniper as the base ingredient of gin makes it easy to manipulate the flavor. They have plans for citrus is the summer, something with mint for the winter. Soon after production begins on gin and vodka, in the background they will begin production on whiskey, which will need time to age.
With beer anyone can self-distribute, but with spirits you can’t, not even one bottle. So, they will funnel through a distributor and you should see their bottles on the shelves early 2019.
At their home base they will have tours and tastings available. With their distillers permit they are allowed a cocktail bar under a certain proof limit. Once the doors are open the community is welcome to come and check out everything Fox & Seeker has going on.