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Published 8 times a year Whisky Magazine is the perfect complement to the dram in your glass.

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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Rock Town Distillery (AR)

The Distillery is located in Down-town Little Rock in a circa 1950′s old warehouse. The company moved into the building in April of 2010 and spent the next 3 months remodelling and fitting out the distillery equipment.


The Rock Town Distillery was created with one mission. To make sure every possible element used to make Rock Town’s spirits came from Arkansas. From the soft, red winter wheat for the vodka and gin. To the charred, white-oak barrels that store the bourbon. Carefully crafting the vodka, gin, and bourbon in small batches. Every bottle is hand-labelled, the goal is to ensure the highest quality spirits and to never cut corners.


Founded by Phil Brandon in 2010, there hadn’t been a legal distillery in central Arkansas in decades, Pre-prohibition was probably the last time legal distilling was carried out, that was until Phil Brandon lost his job.


With a career in telecommunications Brandon was a casualty of the noughties fluctuating job market.  (In this case Verizon’s takeover of Alltel). However, rather than move out of state to retain his job, the sixth-generation Arkansas native decided to move on to a new endeavour and keep his roots intact.  Brandon stated in a recent interview:


“I was working at Alltel, enjoying life, working on a lot of projects. Alltel was doing great and then Verizon bought us and suddenly it because very apparent that a lot of jobs were going away. Mine was one of those.”


“I kind of developed an appreciation for single malt scotch and whiskey in general and I discovered this new craft distilling movement that was going on throughout the country,”


“The more I thought about it, I was like, well, why not? I was like why aren’t there any distilleries in Arkansas?”


Brandon started researching. He wrote a business plan and financial model, then applied for and received a small business administration loan through the government’s stimulus package.


With an appreciation for whiskey and an enterprising spirit, he founded Rock Town Distillery. “It was just something that I had a passion for,” he said. After doing a lot of research, experimenting with recipes, and remodelling a 1950s-era warehouse, he opened the distillery and already has his products winning awards.


As The Rock Town Distillery came to life. Brandon discovered he had a huge learning curve ahead.


“It was a big, huge risk, you know, it was, basically going to Vegas and sliding all of your chips into the middle of the table and saying I’m all in,”


However this process did have its advantages “I bought a lot of liquor. I tried a lot of different things, you know, started working on developing my palette,”


And he isn’t stopping there. He bottles everything by hand, and even pours the spirits in his tasting room for guests.


Visitors can tour the distillery to discover the process of making spirits from grain to glass. On tour, which Brandon describes as “Distilling 101,” guests learn how small batches of Arkansas-grown wheat and corn are ground, cooked, and fermented. Gin and vodka can be distilled relatively quickly, but Rock Town’s bourbon is aged six to eight months in oak barrels to produce its distinctive flavour and golden hue.


Also on the team are his wife Diana Brandon, distiller Andy Lewis, Audrey Magnuson and Josh Wood.


Rock Town Distillery is located at 1216 E. Sixth St. in down-town Little Rock. The tasting room is open from 1–5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.


Tours are offered at 4 pm. Wednesday through Friday, and at 1:30 and 3 pm. on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are not required. Admission is charged for adults and free for children, the tours conclude with a tasting of all the distillery’s products for those 21 and older.

Please Confirm with the Distillery before travelling.


They hope you’ll come by, check it out and share a taste of Arkansas “spirit”.



Moonshine Made Right! (in more ways than one)

Arkansas Lightning is corn whiskey or what some might call moonshine.  Of course, moonshine is the name for illegal whiskey so they called theirs  Arkansas Lightning. Double distilled from only the finest Arkansas Corn and Wheat in a solid copper pot still.  


Bottled in two sizes: 375ml – 125 proof    750ml – 110 proof


Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible – 2012

89.5 – Superbly made.  Clean, oily and very impressive.  Intrigued by the vaguest hint of sweet fresh shrimp on the nose.  Will make a fine whiskey if placed in high quality oak.  62.5%.  New, clear spirit pot distilled from Arkansas corn and wheat mash.


Apple Pie Lightning

Grandaddy used to make a little lightning every now and then and mix it with apple juice and cinnamon to make it sippable.  Now you too can have Grandaddy’s Apple Pie Arkansas Lightning.  Smooth and delicious.


Handcrafted from Arkansas Lightning and a blend of all natural apple juice, cinnamon and other spices.  40 proof.


Peach Lightning

Everybody loves the taste of fresh peaches.

Handcrafted from Arkansas Lightning and a blend of all natural peach and other spices.  40 proof.


Blackberry Cobbler Lightning

Handcrafted from Arkansas Lightning and a blend of all natural blackberry and other spices.  40 proof.


Grape Lightning

Remember when you used to drink grape koolaid?

Handcrafted from Arkansas Lightning and a blend of all natural grapes.  40 proof.


Lightning Hot Cinnamon Arkansas Lightning

Ever wonder what it would taste like to put red hots and atomic fireballs into moonshine?  Well, we did…   and from that we created Lightning Hot Cinnamon Arkansas Lightning.


Handcrafted from Arkansas Lightning and a blend of all natural cinnamon.

Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on! Bottled at a not too hot 66 proof.

Great on the rocks, mixed with lemon-lime soda or as a shooter.


Hickory Smoked Whiskey is distilled from Arkansas Soft Red Winter Wheat – aged in ex-Bourbon casks – with a nice light smokey taste from real Hickory.


They took American whiskey distilling techniques and melded it with Scotch whiskey aging techniques to make something pretty special, Arkansas Hickory Smoked Whiskey.


They cold smoke the wheat prior to milling in our own hickory smokers.   This infuses smoke into the grain and the flavour of the hickory carries all the way through to the distillate.


Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey is a premium small batch bourbon distilled, aged and bottled at the distillery in Little Rock, Arkansas. They take pride in the fact that the corn and wheat comes from Arkansas farmers. The bourbon ages in small new charred oak barrels for a rich and complex flavour.


Best enjoyed straight up, on the rocks, or with a splash. 92 proof. 46% alcohol/volume.

Principle Brands

Arkansas Hickory Smoked Whiskey.

Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey.

Arkansas Lightning

also available as

Apple Pie, Blackberry,


Hot Cinnamon,


Rock Town Distillery

1216 E 6th Street

Little Rock, AR 72202




Contact the distillery for private tours