In Hye, Texas, 60 miles outside of Austin, the Garrison Brothers Distillery is churning out homegrown Bourbon. With organic yellow corn from the Texas Panhandle and premium winter wheat grown right on the property, the state’s first and oldest maker of legal whiskey is eager to share the taste of its whiskey with the visitors who tour the distillery every day.
To create an engaging whiskey tasting and touring experience on-site, the distillery’s manager decided to invest in a modern AV upgrade— an idea which had formerly been met with hesitation. Given the building’s size and barn-like shape, he knew it would be difficult to control newly mounted TVs and sophisticated speakers while his staff physically conducted tours throughout the facility. He expressed his needs and concerns to a friend who happened to work in the AV industry and was directed to Scott Ruzich, president and CEO of EpicAV Automation, to design a simple, yet effective control system for the property’s new AV components.
“When I found out that the distillery’s primary need was reliable and instant remote control of audio and video, I knew that the ELAN Entertainment & Control System was the way to go,” Scott states. “The ELAN App’s interface is extremely user-friendly and the system itself is ultra-reliable. I can rest assured that distillery management will not run into an issue with the news system while conducting tours.”
Scott installed an ELAN System Controller as the brains of the entire facility. He added a ‘community’ ELAN touch panel under one of the equipment racks for anyone to use. “The ‘community touch panel’ is designed to be mounted under a cabinet,” Scott explains. “It flips down, but is otherwise hidden. For this particular application, we mounted it to the bottom of the equipment rack so that anyone in the facility can easily access and control the system.”
He also downloaded the ELAN App on each staff member’s smartphone, which according to the distillery manager, is absolutely crucial to tour operations. “We now offer tasting tours in addition to a program where volunteers can come bottle the whiskey,” the manager explains. “We need the technology to work seamlessly without having to fidget with wires if something goes wrong. In such a big space, it helps to easily control the technology with a touch of a button on your phone. The last thing I want is for A/V complication to taint a tour experience.”
For entertainment, Scott installed two 55in Samsung LED TVs paired with two Apple TVs. He relied on Niles OS6.3 high performance indoor/outdoor loudspeakers to provide the sound. “Since the space is relatively large, I incorporated high-end speakers that would deliver the sound over the noise of the boilers,” he adds.
Scott also installed a Panamax M4315-Pro power conditioner and a Panamax MB1500 battery backup, both with BlueBOLT remote energy management functionality, to protect all of the new audio and video components from power surges or outages. “Power management is crucial in protecting the equipment, especially in an area this remote,” Scott says. “With the distillery almost two hours away from our Austin office, the advanced BlueBOLT management features allows us monitor and repair remotely if need be. The easy-to-use BlueBOLT software makes it possible for my team to provide the best service within minutes remotely from across state lines.”
Although the installation was supposedly relatively straightforward, Scott and his team faced significant challenges while working in open terrain in the relentless Texas summer heat. “Without a doubt, the most challenging part of this installation was upgrading the Wi-Fi on the property,” Scott continues. “The distillery is very remote. We initially had to work with a point-to-point internet service wirelessly, which can go in and out all of the time. Fortunately, we were able to establish a quick and responsive local Wi-Fi for the entire system to operate on through a Ubiquiti network.”
The sweltering heat also slowed down the installation process. Scott and his team had to run a Cat5e wire atop the roof, which is curved like a barn and made of silver metal that reflects the sun. “It was a scorching 100° Fahrenheit outside,” Scott laughs. “And the whiskey boilers inside the building raised the temperature to about 125° Fahrenheit. We were definitely working slower than usual, and were happy to crack open some ice cold beers by the project’s completion!”
According to the distillery’s manager, the system has been working without a hitch. “ELAN really helps with internal operations when we host bottle parties and tastings,” he says. “We can play two different content feeds on both TV’s very easily, and can control music from our smartphones’ streaming app services. The AV upgrade with the added control element has transformed our operations. We are now more than a distillery; Garrison Brothers has become a place for fun and entertainment.”
According to Scott, the distillery’s team wasn’t that interested in what he calls the ‘fancy’ elements of an AV install. “They just wanted the system to work,” he concludes, “and ELAN offers that peace-of-mind. The system operates behind-the-scenes like it’s supposed to and that’s rarer than one can ever assume.”