Thursday Luncheon Keynote Speaker Biography




Boyan Kalusevic

Co-Founder
Dorćol Distilling Company


Thank you to CBS and Cadillac


In 2011, on one of our travels to Belgrade to visit Boyan’s family, we told them of our plans for a San Antonio micro-distillery that would take European family farmhouse distilling and bring it to Texas. His then 90-year-old grandfather chuckled and said he had lost his mind; both his uncles said it was a story they’ve heard for years. But this time things were different.  We were of age; it’s true, Boyan’s been talking about it since his early teens.  We met back in 2003 while at The University of Texas and joked about distilling long before sitting down over drinks and deciding it was a go.

By then, we were both pushing out of our 20s and wondering what life would be like without a desk job. With little more than an idea fueled by the drive to carry on the family tradition of handcrafting beautiful spirits to share with friends, we founded Dorćol Distilling Company, named for the Belgrade neighborhood Boyan was born in. By the Fall of 2011, with family on board (even grandpa gave up trying to talk sense into us), and a second trip to Belgrade, we began sourcing equipment and fruit. Our humble beginnings of floor-plan designs drawn on paper-napkins were starting to shape into something more. By the summer of 2012, a small team, consisting of an architect, a few engineers and the two of us acting as general contractors, was assembled to complete construction plans. Building permitting was submitted the week of Thanksgiving 2012, and by Christmas we were approved to begin construction. Things were moving along incredibly quick, and the number of sleepless nights was starting to pile up. February 5th, 2013 marked our ground-breaking; a culmination of incredibly hard work, and just as much luck. The empty lot at 1902 South Flores St. was being transformed. The next seven months of construction were everything we were warned of, but by then, we were far beyond the point-of-no-return.

At 5pm on Friday, December 13th, 2013, Texas’ first urban craft distillery, Dorćol Distilling Company, opened to incredible support, putting our inaugural spirit, Texas’ first brandy, Kinsman Apricot Rakia, on full display. Since then, we added Nick Kenna to our tiny team of friends and family and named him the distillery’s Barkeep.  With Nick, and the help of some legislative changes that same year, we built the tasting room into a craft-cocktail bar and received great critical applause; the house Negroni Blanco was named a Top 10 Cocktail of 2014.  Our first awards were starting to come in.

We received a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Locally Made Spirit/Beer, and Kinsman Apricot Rakia was named the 2014 highest rated American brandy at the Beverage Testing Institute’s World Spirit Championships in Chicago. The 90-point Gold medal also tied the highest ever Texas spirit rating. The distillery has become a destination, showcasing award-winning spirits, craft cocktails, local music performers and art shows alike.  By designing and building our own space, working with a third-generation Serbian coppersmith on the equipment, collaborating with a family grower, and with us at the still, we were able to build exactly what we needed to craft spirits exactly how we wanted… from farm to bottle, with unconditional love, in a genuinely uncompromising fashion.

We can’t thank you enough for being a part of all this.

Chris and Boyan