Bourbon Is the Theme at This New Texas Hill Country Getaway

Go for the whiskey, stargazing and glow-in-the-dark fly-fishing

April 18, 2023 6:30 am
A cabin and van on a dirt road surrounded by greenery.
A place where weekend getaways, mixology and Matthew McConaughey intersect.
Courtesy of Allison+Partners/Longbranch Ranch

The Texas Hill Country draws visitors throughout the year who partake in its many wineries, distilleries and breweries, staying in boutique hotels and the rentals peppered across its rolling landscape. There’s no shortage of lodging options for travelers once they arrive, but only one is all about bourbon.

Longbranch Ranch is a new partnership between Kentucky’s Longbranch Bourbon and Walden Retreats, which opened in 2017 and sits about an hour west of Austin. The luxury property has 15 spacious, safari-style tents overlooking the Pedernales River, and they’ve transformed one of those abodes into a bourbon-themed getaway.  

The 550-square-foot Longbranch Ranch suite has a king bed and multiple seating areas, including a living room equipped with leather lounge chairs and a wood-burning stove and a wraparound deck with a private fire pit and an outdoor shower. The kitchen is stocked with cast-iron cookware, a dining table, a fridge and all the essentials, and there’s a gas grill on the patio.

The room also sports a cocktail bar kit, so you can make drinks upon arrival or whenever a nightcap is required. And you’ll find a few extras to take home with you, including a branded tote bag, insulated Yeti mug, bandana and mesquite wood pen.

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Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon was created in 2018 as a collaboration between Wild Turkey and McConaughey, who formerly served as the brand’s creative director. It connects the bourbon’s home state of Kentucky with the actor’s home state of Texas by enlisting mesquite wood as part of the liquid’s filtering process. The eight-year-old bourbon is full of vanilla, toffee and caramel, with hints of pear, citrus and smoke.

Longbranch Ranch is a physical manifestation of this union, and the brand’s “Wonder What If” campaign, which — just like the idea that led to the spirit’s creation — encourages fans to discover what happens when they turn curiosity into action. The ranch embraces this ethos through a series of optional activities designed to spark exploration among its guests.

For starters, you can book a private mixology session, during which you’ll make specialty bourbon cocktails. Walk in the Wilds is an audio-guided hike through the scenic landscape surrounding the retreat. Illuminating Texas Night Sky Fly-Fishing is a one-on-one guided glow-in-the-dark fly-fishing experience on the Pedernales River. And Unexpected Sounds involves a private string performance by classically trained musicians, whose playlist includes a range of pop and rock songs. As you can probably tell, a stay here is a bit different from your typical camping trip. 

Longbranch Ranch’s residency at Walden Retreats runs through the end of the year and can be booked via the Walden Retreat website. Once there, guests can also take advantage of all the amenities across the 96-acre property, including the general store, which is stocked with provisions like beer, wine, coffee, snacks and firewood, and the communal fire pit, where people gather to share stories and drinks. You can also explore the hiking and biking trails, or go canoeing on the river. Then again, no one’s going to think twice if you spend your days on your wraparound patio, relaxing while you sip bourbon and look at the stars. In fact, that is kind of the whole point.


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