Budding craft distillery industry taking off in ArizonaPosted: Updated:
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk of Arizona's budding wine industry. However, the distilleries in the state are also putting Arizona on the map.
From Elgin and Tucson in Southern Arizona, to Kingman, Flagstaff and throughout the Phoenix area, distilleries are producing award winning whiskeys, vodkas and gins.
"We have three wine growing regions that are getting national recognition. That's fantastic. And it's great to see us moving into the world of spirits, and getting national and worldwide recognition for our spirits," says Scott Dunn of the Arizona Office of Tourism. "It says something about the food purveyors and makers in our state. They're artists. There are some really creative and passionate people."
In Peoria, Lucidi Distilling Company produces its spirits in Downtown Peoria. The owners restored the city's original "Fire Station One," turning it into craft distillery and bar.
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Honoring West Valley first responders, Lucidi's spirits all have names that tie back to firefighting. Also paying homage to tradition, Chris Lucidi says to line the ceiling of the building, they brought in old barn wood from Kentucky, home of legendary whiskey and bourbon.
"We make gin, whiskey, vodka and rum, soon to be adding flavored vodkas," says Lucidi.
Across town at the Arizona Distilling Company in Tempe, the owners also pride themselves on preserving Arizona history.
"Each of these is a love letter to the state of Arizona. They each tell stories about the state," explains Jon Eagan of the spirits he and his partner, Jason Grossmiller, produce. "Everything we do, we try to incorporate Arizona, whether it's grain in some of the products or the botanical in our gin, or the names or stories that the spirits tell."
From their Desert Durum to their Commerce Gin, many of Arizona Distilling Company's spirits start with ingredients grown exclusively in Arizona. Grossmiller and Eagan also love to reach out to other Arizona businesses to collaborate on new concoctions.
"This is wine we turned into brandy. We take the wine we got from a local winery up in Cottonwood. We took that wine and distilled it," says Grossmiller.
Eagan and Grossmiller just opened a bar off University and Roosevelt. You can book a tour of the distillery and tasting all in one visit.
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In Northern Arizona, there are two craft distilleries in Flagstaff, according the Arizona Department of Liquor.
Canyon Diablo Spirits is named after a short-lived Wild West town that was near Flagstaff. The partners named their John Shaw Whiskey after a famed story out of Canyon Diablo.
"John Shaw was actually a cowboy in the early 1900s that was shot and killed in a gunfight, then essentially dug up to be given his last shot of whiskey," explains Joe Pendergast, one of three owners of Canyon Diablo.
Pendergast's partners are former members of the first legal distillery in the state of Arizona, which is no longer in operation.
But the three love Arizona history and heritage. They have incorporated some of the best flavors of the state into their spirits.
"We have the Sonoran Rose, a prickly pear vodka. This was the first ever flavored vodka made in the state of Arizona," says Pendergast. "Our ghost pepper vodka has 2 ghost peppers in every bottle. It's possibly the spiciest vodka on the planet."
Pendergast says it makes for a spicy bloody mary. Canyon Diablo's spirits can be found is stores across Arizona.
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