Devour Culinary Classic Shines Spotlight on Local Distillers and Spirits
This post was written by Matt Farrow of Iconic Cocktail Co.
From the outside looking in, many people wouldn’t know that Arizona has a growing and dare I say, thriving group of local distillers and spirit brand owners. While many may know of the countless micro-distilleries around the country and more specifically our corner of the southwest, Arizona is just as involved with the craft spirits movement as anywhere. You can bet that the group will only get larger and larger in the years to come. Here are a few names you might know, but did you know they all rep Arizona?
Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine is tequila. That being said, if you know anything about tequila, you know it must be distilled in not only Mexico, but specifically Jalisco (maybe a couple other counties, but let’s stay focused here.) So how is that local you might ask? Roger Clyne is to Arizona as Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey. He is a third Generation native son who loves his home and celebrates it every chance he gets. Enter tequila. This locally owned brand is, like others on this list, is distilled in Mexico, but made for Arizona.
Also on this list that might surprise you is 3 Amigos Tequila. Yep, also a locally owned brand that is distilling all their juice in Mexico. For those who don’t know. Tequila has to be 100% Blue Agave and it absolutely, every time, no exceptions, MUST be distilled in Jalisco, Mexico. Similar to French rules for Champagne or Cognac. Tequila just starting looking more classy, right?
Next, we have OHSO. Started in Arcadia as a brewery, OHSO quickly moved to distillation and has a complete line of award-winning spirits being made from sugar cane for all to enjoy. No more asking if the vodka is grain or corn...they got you. From Gin to Rum and everything in between including their new line of Arcadia Spirits of flavored vodkas.
Three Wells is a name you might not of heard of...yet. This farm driven craft spirit is one of two local distilleries in Tucson and doing things on a very micro, hands-on level. The distillers build their still themselves, use native agriculture like the Prickly Pear for one of their base distillate, and use only the best desert groundwater from, you guessed it, the third well on their property. They are also distilling a Blue Agave spirit but from the nectar rather than from the entire pina and they are smart enough to not call it Tequila and ruffle the feathers of the Mexican government.
The final two distilleries on this list are propelling Arizona spirits to the next level and should be considered the elite among all brands you may come across on your next liquor run.
Arizona Distilling Co. is an award winning spirits company from Tempe. From the locally sourced botanicals in their Commerce Gin to their Durum Wheat Whiskey, each bottle shines and pays tribute to Arizona. The goal from day one was to tell a story through local agriculture, and based on the national accolades. I’d say they are getting the message across. Few distillers in the country can offer the local touch and variety that Arizona Distilling Co. has managed to pull off. So what’s next for this local brand? Tequila, done the right way, in Mexico for Arizona.
Last, but most definitely not least, is Whiskey Del Bac from Hamilton Distilleries. This single malt whiskey from Tucson is a true gem and unique among any other spirit in the world. Using locally sourced barley for their single malt mash and then smoking it with local mesquite, Del Bac has managed to create an entirely new, yet hauntingly familiar spirit. Much like the smokey single malt scotches from Scotland, Del Bac offers two varieties of their one-of-a-kind mesquite whiskey. Dorado is aged in new American oak, like bourbon, and as the name suggests, is pure gold. Second is the unaged Clear that drinks very much like Mezcal with a lean mouthfeel that only comes from single malt barley. Finally, the Classic is an unsmoked sipper that is sure to please and impress any whiskey lover.
There will undoubtedly be more distilleries from Arizona to come. The bar has been set only to be raised by those to follow the path blazed by these local heroes. We live in an exciting time here in Arizona for all things food and beverage, can’t wait to see what’s next.
Thanks for reading, and bottoms up!