FORT WORTH — Inside the historic Firehouse No. 5 on the south side of Fort Worth, a young farmer is about to unveil what he hopes will be his best crop yet: Vodka made from black-eyed peas.
This could be a first.
"The vodka has a very clean, little burn, with just a hint of nut flavor on the end," said 30-year-old creator Trey Nickels.
Nickels of Muleshoe, Texas, came up with the idea years ago while facing another bad year of farming. He knew you could make alcohol from starches, so he decided to take the very legumes that were giving him grief and turn them into vodka.
Nickels said reactions were mixed.
"They went, 'Man, you’re crazy! What are you thinking! You're gonna sell your farm and come do this?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, I truly believe I am,'" he told News 8.
With the help of a master distiller from Kentucky, Nickels said he has perfected the recipe. And as soon as his state and federal licenses are approved, he'll be bottling TreyMark Black-Eyed Vodka in Fort Worth.
Nickels said he looked at starting his bean booze business in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, but Fort Worth — and the firehouse — were the right fit.
One of the machines used to distill the vodka is 22 feet high, and fits perfectly where the firehouse pole used to be.
"You've got to believe in what you're doing," said mom and business partner Deborah Nickels.
Trey Nickels said when everything's ramped up, he could be making up to 3,400 bottles a week. They'll sell for $35 and at first will be sold at the distillery at 503 Bryan Avenue. Eventually, he hopes the vodka will be offered at bars and stores.
"Life hands you lemonade," he said. "It handed me black-eyed peas, so I'll make vodka out of them, you know?"
He's hoping the beans — known for their luck — will help a little, too.