The Fierce Whiskers tasting room is an outpost for fans of premium Texas whiskey. Located within Austin’s newest distillery, Brand Bureau was tasked with creating a captivating and immersive tasting room experience that embodies the Fierce Whiskers brand and is a fitting end to the distillery tour.

Architecture, Construction & Design Awards 2022
Second Award | Interiors – Hospitality (Built)

Project Name: Fierce Whiskers
Project Category: Interiors – Hospitality (Built)
Studio Name: Brand Bureau
Design Team: Hilary Miners, Head of Environment Design; Helaina Judge, Senior Designer
Year: 2021
Location: Austin, Texas
Consultants: Overland Partners, Architect of Record; IE2 Construction, Contractor
Photography Credits: Casey Dunn; Austin Cochran; drawings by Brand Bureau
Other Credits: Brendan Ravenhill – Decorative Lighting; De La Espada – Seating; Property Furniture – Seating; Flock – Area Rug; Horne – Oscar Maschera – Coffee Table; Zak+Fox – Upholstered Backs & Pillows; Hilary Miners – Hand Dyed Shibori

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©Casey Dunn; Austin Cochran; drawings by Brand Bureau

The Fierce Whiskers brand was already established and construction on the building well underway – the distillery was already functioning – so we used these existing conditions and brand origins as our launching off point. Finding inspiration in the humble vernacular of Rickhouse Functionalism, we maintained the existing shou-sugi ban wood that clads the ceiling and walls, promoting connectivity to the adjacent Rickhouse. We turned to the American artistry of the Modern Craft Movement to soften the space and add contrast, introducing local textures and patinated upholstery. The furniture reflects the artisan community of Austin, and at the same time was selected for its mobility. At the forefront of the brand’s mission is a desire to build community around the appreciation of process and responsible production, so this – combined with hosting a spectrum of events for Austin’s bustling tech scene – meant that the tasting room had to accommodate a range of programming by keeping flexibility in mind.

©Casey Dunn; Austin Cochran; drawings by Brand Bureau

From apparent touches that incorporate the “FW” emblem to more subtle nods to local Texas craft, every selection was made in service to the Fierce Whiskers identity. The brand’s logo appears in discoverable moments throughout the space—etched into brass medallions on tabletops and waterjet into a slab of regional limestone on the bar front center—while a patchwork of distressed denim, hand dyed indigo fabrics, and worn leather nod subtly to the Texan cowboy. We created two hero moments through custom millwork made of mesquite and white oak: the Maker’s Cabinet and the bar, which is centered on a window into the production room beyond. A copper still glows through the glass, celebrating and providing transparency to the on-site distilling process, as well as the Fierce Whiskers brand ethos. As the final stop on the distillery tour, this is the place where guests are invited to sit and enjoy the custom cocktail program featuring those same spirits that are being made just beyond the wall.

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©Casey Dunn; Austin Cochran; drawings by Brand Bureau

The entire project was completed during Covid restrictions, meaning that the design team was not able to visit the site until it was time for styling. Through virtual meetings and constant communication with the client’s team, AOR, and GC – largely aided by our use of Revit – we were able to fully design and execute the space without ever being in the same room. Long lead times, shipping delays, and product shortages presented a sourcing challenge, but we were able to select pieces that were available within the project schedule while still adhering to our design perspective by tapping into the local makers of Texas as much as possible. In the end, it created an even more uniquely Austin experience, which was perfect for the Fierce Whiskers brand.