The Story



A former MLB All-Star, Whiskey Writer & Businessman Come Together to Debut the First Black-Owned Whiskey Brand from Texas

Denison, TX (April 20, 2021)

The team behind Grayson Texas Blended Bourbon is delighted to announce its official debut in its home state of Texas, as the first black-owned whiskey brand to come from the region. Co-founded by native Texan, Author and Craft Spirits Professional Nico Martini, Former MLB three-time All-Star Vernon Wells, and Private Equity Investor Brandon Davis, this trio came together to create a whiskey that captures the boldness of Texas while paying homage to the Lone Star State. Partnering with award-winning distilleries, Ironroot Republic, Lone Elm Whiskey, and Balcones, they have created a distinct blended bourbon, using three bold whiskies to create one wholly Texas spirit.

“I have accomplished a lot in my life but being able to break the race barrier as the first black-owned whiskey brand in Texas is one, I am most proud of,” says Vernon Wells, who off the field established himself as a successful investor in the wine and television production industries, as well as a whiskey aficionado.

“We all wanted to create a whiskey that pushed boundaries and honored the great state of Texas and the people behind the brand,” says Nico Martini. “But we also knew there were people far better at making whiskey than we ever will be, so we decided why not work with the best? Therefore, partnering with Ironroot was a no-brainer. This is our way of showing the world what an amalgamation of the best whiskies in Texas can be. We’re awfully proud of the spirits coming out of this state and are thrilled to be a part of this story with Grayson as the first Black-Owned Whiskey Brand and first Texas Blended Bourbon.”

Founded in 2014, Ironroot Republic Distillery is owned and operated by brothers Robert and Jonathan Likarish who also enlisted the help of their mother Marcia, known throughout the state as the “Mother of Texas Whiskey”. The team behind Grayson Whiskey, led by Jonathan Likarish, carefully chose single barrels that accentuated specific flavors in each distillery's whiskey and worked with their distillery partners to hand-select every barrel. The result is a harmoniously balanced blend of straight Texas whiskies from Ironroot, Lone Elm and Balcones, and is truly an authentic, one-of-a-kind expression.

Tasting Notes Include:

● Nose: Raisins, barrel-aged maple syrup, Beignet flavored coffee grounds, subtle hint of the inside of new cowboy boots, jalapeno jelly.
● Palate: Super sweet initially with syrupy waffle notes, moves into a spiced cider with allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, brown butter into an almost burnt pecan, sweet wheat, and fennel finish.

The inaugural Grayson Whiskey release is bottled at 59.5% ABV with a suggested retail price of $59.99 for 750ml and will be available at select retail locations across the state, including Spec’s, Total Wine & More, and Liquor King. Grayson Whiskey is proud to launch in its home state, giving enthusiasts and whiskey fans alike an exclusive taste of the first Texas Blended Bourbon. A national rollout is slated for the Summer of 2021.
For more information and to purchase Grayson Whiskey online, visit Follow Grayson on Instagram @GraysonWhiskey, Facebook @GraysonWhiskey, Twitter @Grayson_whiskey.

Our Founders


Brandon Davis Co-Founder

Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Brandon Davis has always been a fan of whiskey and remembers it fondly as one of the first spirits he has ever enjoyed. With the desire to create a bold, high-quality whiskey that can be enjoyed by itself and by a wide range of drinkers, he was inspired to create Grayson, the first-ever blended Texan Whiskey – paying homage to the lone star state.

Davis is the business visionary behind the brand and is responsible for ensuring its growth and success. Along with co-founder Nico Martini, Author and Mixologist, and former MLB Player Vernon Wells, Davis wants to bring further recognition to the Texas Whiskey market by creating products inspired by the state, that Texans and consumers nationwide can champion.

In addition to creating Grayson, Davis is the Managing Partner of private equity firm, JayChris Management and sits on the Board of Directors at Project 10, an award-winning production company with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. Davis's extensive background in investment management and corporate strategy has been integral in both roles. Davis serves as an Acting Director for both the US and Canadian Operations of Project 10, while also spending his time operating several other investments and businesses in the JayChris Management portfolio.

He and Vernon are partners in two boutique wine brands based in Napa Valley, JACK Winery and Two Old Dogs Cellars. JACK was created alongside another Partner and former MLB player, Chris Iannetta, and is a high-end boutique DTC-focused brand, while Two Old Dogs was acquired from a former Vintner in Napa Valley to help target a different demographic and increase brand awareness.

In his spare time, Davis enjoys spending time with his wife, Tanya, and their two-year-old son, Freddy, as well as his extended family. He lives an active lifestyle and enjoys golfing, running, swimming, and traveling.

Nico Martini Co-Founder


Born and raised in Texas, Nico Martini is a Best Selling Author of the 2018 release, Texas Cocktails, and the 2021 release, Texas Whiskey.

Over the years, Martini has become a thought leader and innovator within the Texas spirits industry. He has presented at numerous trade events, including San Antonio Cocktail Conference, the Bar Institute, several United States Bartender's Guild conferences, and Portland Cocktail Week.

Martini holds a master’s degree in Emerging Media & Communications from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has been a Guest Lecturer at the university from 2009 through 2014, where he taught Digital Marketing Design and Self-Branding Through Social Media.

Prior to his transition to spirits, Martini worked in a wide variety of fields. He was a Program Director and on-air talent for CBS Radio's Indie-verse 100.3 HD2 in Dallas, toured the U.S. with jugglers, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, performed in wild west comedy shows across the nation, and worked in the indie film industry. A true creative and man of many talents, Martini attributes his background in theatre and varied interests to his well-rounded and positive outlook on the world. And yes, Martini is his real last name.


Vernon Wells Co-Founder

Vernon Wells III is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder, playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the New York Yankees. Wells was born in Shreveport, LA, and grew up in Arlington, Texas, where he still resides today.

Wells was first introduced to the world of Whiskey through his former teammates. Whether they were at dinner, on the road, or hanging out, trying new expressions and age statements became a fun part of their off days.

After he left the MLB, Wells and Grayson Co-Founder Brandon Davis became partners in two boutique wine brands based in Napa Valley, JACK Winery and Two Old Dogs Cellars. As the two immersed themselves more and more into the world of beverage, Wells recalled his days of exploring all things whiskey and, along with Davis decided to create their own.

As a Co-Founder of Grayson Whiskey, Wells’ goal is for Grayson to be highlighted as the very best Texas has to offer – a brand that whiskey critics respect and that family and friends alike can enjoy. In his spare time, Wells’ favorite things to do are coaching his kids, watching them play, or playing games with his family and friends. He appreciates a good Manhattan cocktail but usually enjoys his whiskey or cognac neat.

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