In the past few years we have been seeing more and more small businesses gaining a foothold in communities. This is certainly a change from the long stretch we saw of big business edging out smaller competitors. While we know that bigger business platforms offer economy of scale, it’s the smaller business models that bring unique items to customers. This change is being seen across many types of companies, like the creation of small batch distilleries and breweries. In Little Rock, Arkansas, we stopped by Rock Town Distillery to see what good things they are bringing to their locals.
We want to thank the Little Rock CVB and Rock Town Distillery for hosting our visit. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
First in Arkansas
Sitting on a main drag in downtown Little Rock, the outside of the business barely speaks of the good job being done inside. As we entered the doors, we were deposited in the tasting room, which also serves as a makeshift bar. We were surprised to see so many people, but found out that it is also the area where tours wait their turn. Our timing was impeccable, since a tour was about to start. While we waited, we spoke with staff members, who told us a little of the backstory. Rock Town Distillery is the first “legal” distillery, in Arkansas, since Prohibition. Founded in 2010, that means there were about 77 years of no alcohol production in the state. We can see why this place is so popular.
Tour Time at Rock Town Distillery
It seemed that our conversations had just began, when it was time for the tour. Our guide led the group through double doors and into the distillery room. Here he walked through the steps and equipment required to produce their variety of spirits. Using grains supplied by Arkansas farmers, they explained the process from grain to glass. The guide was careful to be sure that everyone was able to follow along with the information. He would periodically ask questions of the group, which would keep them engaged in the discussion. This is a well developed tour that leaves the participant with a great basis of understanding by the end of the trip.
Our next stop was a visit to the barrel room. Rows and rows of oak barrels sit patiently awaiting their turn. We learned that each type of spirit has its own unique aging period. It boggles the mind to think of how many bottles will be filled from the barrels arranged in this room.
Now For The Fun Part
Once the tour ends, it’s time for the tastings. Tours come on two levels, Standard for $10 and Premium for $15. (Of course, tax is required on both.) With the Standard Tour, each paying participant receives a tasting of 10 items that are produced at Rock Town Distillery. The Premium Tour adds 3 special items to that list. These will vary, but could include a single barrel whiskey or an anniversary whiskey, for example. After the tasting, guests are welcome to linger and sample one of the multitude of cocktails, which are whipped up by their inventive staff.
Not only do they create some unique flavor combinations, but they each add their fun twist on creating new drinks. Now, some may look down on decorated drinks, but we believe that there is no reason a drink cannot be as pleasing for the eyes, as it is for the palette. The crowning achievement had to have been the idea to float a fortune cookie on a citrus slice. While they may not seem to be the most practical decorations, they certainly bring a smile to the faces of those near enough to witness them. The bar at Rock Town Distillery has a special cocktail menu that will change periodically, as new drinks are invented. Be sure to ask about it when you visit.
Rock Town Distillery may be fairly new to the market, but they are creating quite a buzz. They have seen lots of good press about their tours, and are even considered one of the top 10 U.S. distillery tours. With engaging tour guides, a wide range of small batch products, and some delicious concoctions, we see why they are rising to the top. Stop in on your visit to downtown Little Rock to see just how the first “legal” distillery is shaking up the landscape. We are betting you will love your visit. So the question is, would you order a drink that comes with a fortune cookie?
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