Balcones Head Distiller Suspended

News coming out of America suggests that Balcones president and head distiller, Chip Tate, has been suspended for 90 days by the board of directors.

According to The Waco Tribune it has all kicked off in Texas after Tate allegedly threatened to burn down the distillery and physically harm the board’s chairman, Greg Allen. On top of the suspension the board have also secured a restraining order against him.

Chip Tate in his distillery

According to The Waco Tribune:

In issuing the temporary restraining order against Tate on Aug. 22, 74th State District Judge Gary Coley Jr. ordered Tate to refrain from entering any of the Balcones facilities without making prior arrangements; refrain from contacting Balcones’ employees or suppliers; refrain from communicating with any person in the spirits industry or in the media about Balcones or about his current assignment at Balcones; and refrain from using company debit or credit cards or other company resources.

The restraining order means Tate cannot put his side of the story across, with the Tribune also claiming Tate owes the company over $14K.

What we can gather reading both the Tribune story, and others that have appeared online, is that Tate has had a falling out with the group of investors he brought together in 2008 to start the company, leading to this confrontation. Unfortunately they make up the majority of the board leaving Tate out in the cold.

What they disagreed about is all speculation but without Tate there at the distillery making Balcones for at least 90 days there won’t be any new whiskey being produced.

We have never met Chip Tate but he was over recently to host a Balcones and cigar night at NOLA in London. We have spoken to many people there and we can confirm that at no point did he threaten to shoot anyone or burn the bar down.

In actual fact everyone we have spoken to who has met Tate has nothing but nice things to say about him. He seems to be a passionate man who loves his whiskey and is very passionate about the business.

Who is in the right and who in the wrong remains to be discovered (if indeed it ever is) but for now we’re cheering on the man behind the product as opposed to the men behind the money.

What we do know is this is definitely a blow for one of the best young distilleries in America and can only hope that Balcones doesn’t suffer in the long term, for now savour that bottle you have on your bar.