This is part 2 of The Bourbon Flight, exploring bourbon distilleries throughout the United States. This series will introduce bourbon lovers to both known and unknown distilleries.
This is an informative piece, not a review since we have not sampled the bourbons. We hope to inform readers that distilling bourbon is a nationwide love. Tradition and passion run through each bottle of bourbon, from Elmer T. Lee to the unknown distiller.
We cannot highlight every distillery in a state, but we will certainly try to bring the most helpful information to you. We plan on highlighting two states in each Original Pour.
Keep checking back to see when your state is highlighted. We are going in alphabetical order.
Arizona Distilling Co.—Tempe, Arizona
Named after a brewery that was shut down during Prohibition, Arizona Distilling Co. offers its award-winning Copper City Bourbon. The microdistillery, which neighbors the Arizona State University campus, was founded in 2012 by co-owners Rodney Hu, Jon Eagan and Lead Distiller Jason Grossmiller.
Even after Prohibition’s repeal on Dec. 5, 1933, no whiskey was legally made in the metro Phoenix area until Arizona Distilling Co. came along in 2013. It’s a campus hangout for sure, but true to its motto of bringing a piece of Arizona with the world, the distillery offers both tours and tastings.
Elgin Distillery—Elgin, Arizona
A multiple award-winning distillery, Elgin Distillery bottles Arizona Craft Beverage Whiskies. Located southeast of Tucson, the distillery was the first licensed craft distillery in Arizona and is the most and highest awarded distillery in the West.
Distiller Steve Murray and Chief Blender Kathy Ellam believe that careful dedication to small-batch distillation and maturation is paramount to producing exceptional ultra-premium whiskey.
Arizona Straight Bourbon Whiskey is 100 proof, made from Arizona corn, rye and barley, and proofed by its own “Magic Water.”
Flying Leap Distillery—Elgin, Arizona
Founded in 2010, Flying Leap began distilling in 2016. The facility has a robust grain spirits production capability and a large hammermill for grinding malts. Four stills of hammered copper produce the aged bourbon. They believe the stills are a work of art and are proud to display them to the public with large view windows looking into the operation.
The distillery produces a unique straight bourbon “single barrel” whiskey distilled from a complex, soured mash of organic, non-GMO New Mexican blue and sweet corn cereal grains with dark roasted wheat and clear spring barley malts. It is housed in new, 53-gallon charred Kentucky white oak casks for a minimum of two years before bottling. Whiskey tasting rooms overlook the scenic Arizona landscape.
Grand Canyon Distillery—Williams, Arizona
Owned by U.S.-veteran John Peasley, the distillery has grown significantly since its inception in 2007. In 2017, the company decided it was time to get into the spirits business. Three locations and a lot of barrels later, Bond Fire was created.
This wheated straight bourbon whiskey is two years old and made with Arizona blue corn. Whether sipping on bourbon or enjoying dinner in the restaurant, the distillery is perfect for meeting friends and sitting by the enormous stone fireplace.
Grand Canyon Distillery is one of 26 distilleries in Arizona and with continued expansion, it will soon be the largest.
SanTan Spirits—Chandler, Arizona
Located southeast of Phoenix in Chandler, Arizona, sits the largest distillery in the state. SanTan Spirits has a simple mantra: “Uncommon Quality for Everyday Occasions.” The distillery opened in 2007 and continues pushing bourbon and beer boundaries. With an all-inclusive brewery and distillery, fans of both can find just about anything at the newly established tasting bar.
Sacred Stave, Jacob Waltz Straight and the newly released Jacob Waltz Bottle-in-Bond bourbon carry the tradition of great Arizona bourbon. Owner Anthony Canecchia and distiller Brant Gasparek are the lifeblood of invention.
A bulk of their whiskey is aged in Tempranillo-Syrah-Grenache blend barrels, which gives the spirits their unique smoothness. The distillery expanded in 2019 to allow for more growth and has used every inch since then.
Delta Dirt Distillery—Helena, Arkansas
Delta Dirt Distillery is a family-owned craft distillery located in the Arkansas Delta, with some of the country’s richest farmland. The distillery grows and produces grains in the same community as the bourbon is distilled and claims to have the finest locally inspired bourbon in the region.
As co-founder Harvey Williams explains, “Magic happens in the copper pot.” In the coming months, the distillery will release its Delta Blues bourbon, an 86-proof expression.
Delta Dirt is the only Black farm distillery in America. This past May, the distiller renovated and opened a tasting room with a vast bar and seating area. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, so the ambiance is delightful.
The distillery donates 1% of sales to local education and community initiatives. In short, Delta Dirt Distillery hopes to “Raise Spirits in the Delta” one bottle at a time.
Fox Trail Distillery—Rogers, Arkansas
Located in northwest Arkansas, Fox Trail Distillery is a small-batch bottler of wildly good bourbon. The distiller is about educating the consumer on the process, history and philosophy of spirits. You will leave with a deeper understanding of the small-batch process.
Huge blocks of ice sit on the bar while bartenders saw away at them to bring you the freshest ice possible for your cocktail. The distillery offers O’Highland’s XIV and Wild Parallel bourbons and the menu pairs well with the spirits offered.
Tours and tastings are suggested but not required to enjoy the rustic atmosphere. Fox Trail is a pet-friendly establishment and seating is available inside and outside.
Hot Springs Distillery—Hot Springs, Arkansas
Home of Bear Clap bourbon, Hot Springs Distillery was built in the summer of 2018. Owners Keith and Scott Atkins have had various careers but settled on making whiskey with family and are trying to bring a little of Scotland to the states.
Their creative process takes some of the more well-known bourbon brands and combines them with unique techniques from all over the globe.
Located in the self-proclaimed “Valley of the Vapors,” the distillery offers a tasting room and events.
Rock Town Distillery—Little Rock, Arkansas
Rock Town Distillery has the distinction of being the first legal distillery to operate in Arkansas since Prohibition.
Owner Phil Brandon’s dream was born in 2009 when he left the corporate world to pursue his passion for starting his own distillery. His goal was to create an affordable spirit using all-natural ingredients that could compete with top-shelf competitors. Hence the motto, “Our Passion is our Spirit.”
Rock Town quickly became internationally known and was recognized by the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013. The distillery offers behind-the-scenes tours of its facility, where visitors can learn how grains become their favorite libations. It also provides cocktail-making classes.
Rock Town is located in downtown Little Rock, the state’s capital, and is the only distillery in the city of 150,000 people. The distillery outgrew its original space and moved to its current location in 2018.
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