Just who is Rock Town Distillery? They are an Arkansas owned and operated distillery. Currently, they are the only Whiskey, Gin and Vodka Distillery in Arkansas. Now, let’s dive into why we are so excited about meeting them. Well, other than the fact that I love their brand of alcohol.
How Did Rock Town Distillery Begin? The Man Behind the Brand: Phil Brandon
Phil’s background is in engineering. After employment at Alltel (2009) came to an end with the buyout by Verzion, he was left with choices. Being a self-proclaimed “Whiskey Geek”; he loved drinking it, reading about it, and studying it. Phil said, “What could be better than making whiskey for a living?” That’s when Rock Town was born in 2010 with that thought in mind. The idea of making whiskey was just “sexy”! When asked what might surprise people to know about him; he’s musical. Phil can play the bass guitar and flute. He’s played in a band for years, at clubs all over the state.
What does Phil drink?
All things bourbon and whiskey. Yes, Rock Town brand, that’s a given. He doesn’t have to go far to put his hand on a bottle or barrel, for that matter. Phil’s “go to” cocktail of choice is a Sazerac. A Sazerac is claimed to be the oldest cocktail in America by some. It is a staple in New Orleans, Louisiana. Not one bit surprising that a southern gentleman, who owns a southern company, such as Rock Town Distillery would choose this as his “go to” cocktail.
Where is Rock Town Distillery Located?
Rock Town Distillery is located in the heart of downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. It is easy to get to; one block right off of I-630. This location is not just where they brew, age & bottle, but is also a cool trendy bar area. Rock Town Distillery is one of the top 10 things to do in Little Rock, AR. The atmosphere can compete with any of the happening scenes in the metropolitan areas of Addison, Texas, OKC, or Atlanta. I feel certain that if you are looking for a cool, chill vibe bar to sip on an amazing cocktail then you might want to add Rock Town’s bar on your agenda.
Daily tours are offered at $10 per person. Several time options are available. I suggest checking out the website for dates and times offered. They have drink making classes, which make a great date night or gal pal outings. Rock Town is interested in helping people drink better, not just more.
What Makes Rock Town Distillery Different?
They aren’t just in the liquor business for a buck. Now, granted they aren’t in it to lose money or just not make any. What they are in it to help other locals, as well as, create a name for themselves. They localize all the products they possibly can. First, the glass for the bottles comes from a manufacturer out of Jonesboro, AR. Secondly, all their grains that they can get produced by Arkansas farmers they do so. Thirdly, the oak for their barrels come from Arkansas, as well. Last, but not least, the sugar cane which they get in the raw form for the rum comes from our neighboring Louisiana. Keeping things local makes me happy to know about and to do business with them. This shows pride in where you come from, and helps the people in the state you love.
Rock Town Distillery is Award Winning in the World of Spirits!
The wall when you walk in is laden with awards and honors. All the way from bourbon to gin and many things in between. It showcases golds, silvers and even a couple of double golds. Magazine articles, featured news stories and more show just how well this distillery can stand in the hall of fame with legendary favorites. US Micro Whiskey of the Year is one of Phil’s proudest accomplishments. Although, the thing that holds his respect most and makes him beam with pride: his team. There is something great and very real when you birth a business. When you build it from the ground up with terrific people, therein lies true accomplishment. It’s the feeling of having a team that feels like family, not just employees.
Who Doesn’t Love Learning? Whiskey / Bourbon – What is the Difference?
Yeah, yeah, yeah I’m sure everybody in America knows the answer to that question, except me. Whiskey vs Bourbon… Therefore, this paragraph may be skipped by all of you who are “whiskey / bourbon snobs.” Not only do I want to drop a little information about those two liquors; let’s go a little deeper into the details of several of the different spirits that you will find available from Rock Town. As for me, I found this knowledge about rum, vodka and gin very interesting, also.
Whiskey / Bourbon
- Whiskey – Whiskey is an overall category – which is home to Rye Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, Canadian Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, etc.
- Bourbon Whiskey – Has to be aged. It is put into a barrel and aged. Bourbon by law has to meet these federal guidelines: First – It has to be at least 51% corn, Second – aged in a new, charred oak barrel, and Third – made in the United States of America. There are more guidelines than this, but these are the three main ones. Rock Town Bourbon has a mash bill made up of corn, wheat and barley. Should you be looking for a smooth, rich bourbon with a hint of chocolate, then the Southern Cabana Boy says that Rock Town Chocolate Malt will suit you perfectly! FYI he usually prefers Makers Mark but says this one is extremely close. After trying this he said he would be quite happy with it, instead of ever needing to “tear the wax seal again.”
Now, We are getting to my favorite spirits (well, my most fav is the Holy Spirit, but I’m saving Him for another day)!
With that being said – the cash flow to go straight into the bourbon making business would be at null and void while looking at oak barrels for a couple of years. This led to the immediate birth of vodka with the inception of Rock Town Distillery.
- Vodka – Clear Spirits – No aging. Main guideline is that it has to be distilled at a minimum of 190 proof coming off the still. Rock Town bottles it at 80 proof. They use 100 percent corn, but it can be made from anything that has a high starch / sugar content. Such as potatoes, oranges or milk. My favorite drink I make with this is a Southern French Martini.
- Flavored Vodka – The actual juice of grapefruit, lemon and others are used from the natural product itself. The grapefruit has found a new home in my Old Southern Purple Passion.
- Gin – It is where vodka is heated and vapor infused with a herb mixture of juniper, coriander, cinnamon, angelica, anise, lemon and orange peel. The combination of aromatic botanicals and special process of infusion deliver an amazing taste and smell. Brandon’s Gin won a Gold Medal in the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- Rum – Can I just get a YUM! This is one of (if not THE) most delicious rum that I have had in a very long time!!!! It is smooth, mixes well with everything I’ve tried it with, so far. Needless to say, I am a fan. Back to the facts: Rock Town Rum is aged in used bourbon barrels. NO regular sugar. It is a blend of molasses and turbinado sugar, which comes from Louisiana. The label reads Blackstrap & Cane, so aptly does the flavor arrive from every bit of deliciousness you might imagine.
- Arkansas Lighting is a total throw back to the heritage of Arkansas moonshine. Several flavors are available. Furthermore, a variation of alcohol percentage content – 40 proof all the way to 110 proof. The apple pie fit perfectly in my 12 Tipsy Day Recipes in my adult apple cider recipe – Southern Deck the Halls Y’all! I look forward to trying several of the other flavors.
- When it comes to the liqueur’s that I have tried; Rock Town Bourbon Cream tops the list as one of my VERY favorites. I would take it hands down over Bailey’s any day of the week. I used it as one take on a delicious variation for an adult Southern “Loaded” Hot Chocolate. Keep an eye out for Redneck Rhapsody’s an Elvis Inspired Elixir soon to hit the blog with a couple of my Rock Town favs floatin’ in it. I will soon be trying the coffee liqueur, no doubt it will be just as great.
Rock Town Distillery on Film: If you have a few minutes check this distillery out and meet Phil.
We can be proud of Rock Town Distillery.
Rock Town contains a spirit of Arkansas southern roots that can make any Arkansan proud to share in their growth, success and longevity. They even stepped up and made a few simple tweaks to the manufacturing of spirits to help in the production of hand sanitizer in Spring 2020. When the Covid-19 virus began to deplete resources quickly around the state and nation. Rock Town Distillery even gave it away if you had your own container. Something about just doing the right thing, is a good thing.
Now, it’s time to go see if I can find another tasty, boozy recipe. Maybe, I can deplete the Redneck Rhapsody stock pile of spirits by coming up with a few new recipes I can share with you!
Big thanks to Phil for your time, kindness and all the information. Congrats on making America great by sourcing all that you can locally and building an amazing American made brand of spirits. If you haven’t tried Rock Town Distillery brands, I suggest you do so.
XOXO ~ Trina