Rock Town Distillery Tasting

rock_town_profileWe were lucky to recently attend a Rock Town Distillery tasting with Phil Brandon, founder of Rock Town. Rock Town was the first distillery to produce whiskey in Arkansas since prohibition, and as well as a bourbon and a rye whiskey, they also produce a gin, a hickory smoked wheat and a couple of other interesting expressions. Read on to find out more.

“This is what whiskey should be all about: a nice guy, following his passion. It’s one of the reasons we enjoy our trade so much, when we meet good, genuine people who make tasty drinks” Mark Davidson, Royal Mile Whiskies.

Phil Brandon, Rock Town

Last week, Phil Brandon, Rock Town’s Founder, hosted a brilliant tasting of his oak aged gin, hickory smoked whiskey, rye whiskey, bourbon, four grain sour mash bourbon and single barrel reserve bourbon at our sister shop; Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh. We enjoyed all of the spirits but here are some of our favourites:

  • Brandon’s Reserve Oak Aged Gin: juicy, fruity notes, oak, liquorice and honey.
  • The Arkansas Rye: Caramel and toffee apples, molasses, syrup, spice and sweetness.
  • The Arkansas Bourbon: Pears, apples, honey and black cherry.RockTownLineup

Rock Town Distillery was founded in 2010 by Phil, an Arkansas native who had been working in telecoms, but gave that up to follow his passion and produce the first whiskey in Arkansas since prohibition.

To build on what Mark said, not only is Rock Town produced by a genuine and nice chap, but the quality and price match up. The difficulty for smaller distilleries is that the cost of set up, and distribution costs mean their product can seem expensive on the shelves next to their more established peers who benefit from economies of scale. Rock Town have managed to balance the costs with a price point customers find reasonable.

A few key production points:

  • Standard range aged in 56 litre oak quarter casks. Much smaller than standard bourbon casks, which are 200 litres.
  • Pot Distilled. 1000 Litre, steam jacket heated, no internal coils (so no burning the wash).
  • Locally sourced grain, bottled on site (at bottling parties). At bottling parties, they invite anyone down who wants to help them bottle. There’s pizza and cocktails. It sounds great!
  • New oak used for the bourbon and rye, used oak matures the Hickory Smoked and Barrel Aged Gin.
  • Wheat is cold-smoked with hickory prior to distillation to produce their Hickory Smoked Wheat.

To explore the range, click here.

Many thanks to Phil for such a great tasting.


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