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Feb 15, 2017
With the recent rise of Arizona’s cocktail scene, craft distilleries have set up their stills and opened their doors around the state. If you like your liquor local, there are many distilleries where you can take a tour, enjoy tastings and cocktails, and buy bottles to take home. Here are just a few to visit as the spirits move you.
Canyon Diablo Spirits, Flagstaff
In Flagstaff, Canyon Diablo Spirits takes its name from a notorious Wild West railroad camp once located east of town. Notorious is also a good adjective to describe the distillery’s Two Ghosts vodka, a searing spirit made with ghost pepper chiles – one of the hottest in the world – that makes for eyeball-popping Bloody Marys. Want something less incendiary? Try the Sonoran Rose prickly-pear-flavored vodka, Desert Rain gin and other offerings. Make an appointment to schedule a tour and tasting.
Desert Diamond Distillery, Kingman
Desert Diamond Distillery in Kingman has a state-of-the-art, German-made, 1,000-liter still and stacks of barrels, all perfect backdrops for selfies. The equipment is where the distillery produces its Gold Miner vodka and four rums, all named for the occupation that once put the area on the map. If you want to linger, join a tour; the tasting room offers flights, plus craft cocktails.
Thumb Butte Distillery, Prescott
Whiskey Row in Prescott is home to some of the oldest (and wildest) saloons in Arizona. Not far away, Thumb Butte Distillery (named for the town’s prominent rock outcropping) keeps up the tippling tradition by making whiskeys, not to mention bourbon, gin and vodka. The tasting room has a full-service bar, so you can get your favorite handcrafted cocktail, and, on weekends, live tunes from area musicians make you inclined to keep your tab open.
Lucidi Distilling Co., Peoria
Located in a historic Peoria firehouse north of Phoenix, Lucidi Distilling Co., naturally, has firehouse-inspired names for its spirits. Look for Dispatch gin, Crooked Ladder rum and Forcible Entry vodka, plus a Canadian whiskey, served in their tasting room, either straight up or mixed into a cocktail. Six new spirits, infusions and liqueurs are slated to join the menu by 2018. A gastropub menu for lunch and dinner, plus live music on Thursdays are incentives to hang out for an afternoon or evening.
Adventurous Stills, Tempe
Tempe’s Adventurous Stills likes to impart a little education along with its small-batch vodka, rum, bourbon, whiskey and gin made in hand-built copper stills. Not only can you come in for tastings and tours, but the distillery also offers classes, including one in which you distill your own barrel of your favorite adult drink. Adventurous Stills also likes to share the cheers – you can sample spirits from other Arizona distilleries in their tasting room.
Hamilton Distillers, Tucson
You might notice that Hamilton Distillers’ Tucson tasting room is handsomely furnished. That’s because the folks behind the whiskeys here also founded Arroyo Design, which handcrafts mesquite furniture. They use the same wood to smoke barley that goes into their Whiskey Del Bac spirits, so the Southwestern tradition carries on. Want to learn more? Besides tastings and tours, join a bottling crew, then take home a whiskey that you bottled yourself.
Three Wells Distilling Company, Tucson
Three Wells Distilling Company’s name comes from a Sahuarita, Arizona, well where they pump water for their line of spirits. The Tucson-based distillery also keeps things Arizona-centric by sourcing juniper berries for its Mt. Lemmon Gin from trees found on the eponymous Southern Arizona mountain and harvesting the fruit for their Sonora prickly-pear spirits (a fruit brandy and rum hybrid) from the surrounding desert. Sample the fruit of their labors in the tasting room, or join one of the build-a-gin workshops to make your own.
Elgin Distillery, Elgin
Elgin is in the middle of Southern Arizona’s wine district, but Elgin Distillery aims to expand the adult beverage offerings in that small town by offering spirits made with locally sourced ingredients. Stop by the distillery and tasting room to sample the Arizona bourbon made with corn, rye and barley grown in the state; the eau de vie and vodka made from Cochise County French colombard grapes; or the rums made with sugar cane that comes from northern Sonora, Mexico.