Ever wonder what makes some of Little Rock’s food personalities tick? Rock City Eat’s latest series, Food Insider, takes a look at individuals who are helping change the landscape of our city’s culinary scene. Whether they’re in the kitchen, managing a storefront, farming land or running a food truck … we’ll delve into both the professional and personal side of these dynamite people. This week, we have Phil Brandon of Rock Town Distillery.
How long have you owned/operated Rock Town Distillery?
We got started in 2010. This is our fifth year in operation, and we will be having a fifth year anniversary party soon. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years!
What sparked your interest in distilling?
I became interested in distilling after developing an affection over the years for single malt scotch. I got laid off from my corporate job and decided to leave corporate America behind and start making spirits here in Arkansas.
Can you briefly describe the distillery for someone who hasn’t been in yet?
The distillery is in a 15,000 square feet warehouse just south of the Clinton Library and Heifer Village on the east side of I-30. We offer tours seven days a week and have had people from all over the world come and take our tour. The tour is a fun “distilling 101” course where we show you the process of making spirits and what make ours unique. At the end of the tour, you get to taste some of our products.
What’s your favorite part of the distilling process?
My favorite part is when we empty the barrels after aging the whiskey. The smell is just amazing.
Which Rock Town creation do you think is most popular? What’s your favorite?
Our most popular products are our bourbon and our single barrel bourbon. People also really like our Apple Pie Arkansas Lightning and our Rock Town Vodka sells very well too. My favorite is of course our Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon Whiskey.
What have been some highlights about getting Rock Town Distillery off the ground?
Winning the U.S. Micro Whiskey of the Year Award in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whiskey Bible is our greatest achievement to date. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been able to use locally-sourced, Arkansas grains to make world-class whiskey.
What about some of the hardest moments?
Too many to mention here!
Do you have any exciting plans for the future of Rock Town?
Our fifth anniversary celebration – an announcement will be coming out soon!
If you could change anything about Little Rock, what would it be?
I was born and raised here in Little Rock so it is home to me and I love it here. If I could change one thing, it would be to fix the Arkansas River Trail so that you don’t have to cycle down Cantrell road and through downtown.
What is your all-time favorite non Rock Town liquor?
Tough one… I like so many!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I wish I had some! I like to cycle and spend time with my wife and family.