Truth be told, I hadn’t planned to do any day drinking when we rolled into Little Rock, Arkansas. But the federal government shutdown had shuttered the Clinton Library that we’d intended to visit so what’s a boy to do? We needed a backup plan fast and happily discovered Rock Town Distillery.

The first legal distillery in Arkansas since Prohibition, Rock Town offers a great bar area with well-crafted cocktails. We sat here for a few minutes waiting for our tour, and I could easily envision spending our afternoon right in this spot.

Rock Town Distillery bar

As appealing as it was, however, we didn’t go to spend the day at the bar. We’d gone for a tour and tasting, because frankly, we didn’t know much about distilling spirits and we’re always up for learning something new.

The tour of Rock Town Distillery

The tour started, and our first stop was the room where the spirits go to age. Over the course of several months to many years, the clear spirits put in these oak barrels become whiskey like bourbon or rye.

barrels at Rock Town Distillery

When we walked in, I immediately noticed the room was quite cool. Soon, the guide explained that this room has no climate control other than opening or closing windows. Instead, the temperature fluctuations that occur throughout the year help in the aging process of the spirits. Apparently, Little Rock has a great climate for whiskey making because the temperature changes make the barrels slowly expand and contract, thus moving the spirits across the walls of the oak barrel allowing them to pick up flavors and character from the toasted wood. As fascinating as that is, I just said a quiet thanks that we visited in cool December instead of hot July.

aging barrels at Rock Town Distillery

The tour continued with a discussion of the ingredients in the spirits. Corn is the primary grain used, along with a mix of other grains.

Rock Town Distillery ingredient display

The grains are cooked into a mash which is left to ferment before being distilled. For that part of the process, we headed to a different room, the one that houses the still.

Rock Town distillery still

After the mash has fermented, it’s time to take the alcohol. The mash is boiled in the still, and the alcohol vapors are collected. They condense and go into a storage container. Then, the still is cleaned before the alcohol is boiled a second time, further purifying it. At that point it is vodka and can be bottled, put in barrels to age into one of the whiskeys they make, or distilled again through some aromatics to make gin. Who knew gin is basically flavored vodka?

Our Tasting at Rock Town Distillery

After the 30-minute tour, we went back to the bar area and began the tasting portion of the day. We sat at tables and they gave each of us a little plastic cup (like the ones you take cough syrup with) into which they poured samples. They also provide a larger plastic cup into which we could dump anything we didn’t want to drink. I’m glad we had that. Not because the spirits weren’t tasty, but because even 10 small samples was too much for us.

Rock Town Distillery sample taste

After we tried our second sample, we saw a basket of cheesy puffs go by. It turns out the bar offers a large basket of these crunchy orange treats for only $1, so we bought one. We sat, chatting, munching and listening as the process behind each sample was explained. As we neared the end of the tasting, we also neared the end of the surprisingly delicious cheesy puffs. Ann demonstrated her true love for me when she let me have the last one.

Before leaving, we stopped and looked in Rock Town Distillery’s shop where you can buy the spirits you just sampled. The prices even seemed very reasonable.

Rock Town Distillery shop

We purchased one bottle that we plan to give to someone special for Christmas. Yes, we are starting our shopping early this year. I just hope we can remember where we put it when December rolls around.


Tours and tastings are offered three times a day (Tuesday through Sunday) starting at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Rock Town Distillery website

PIN FOR LATER

  • We had a few windy days in the #FloridaKeys this week that stirred up the waters. It created the most gorgeous colors in the Atlantic Ocean including this area at Sombrero Beach.
  • We miss waking up on the Celebrity Edge. That's all.
  • We've been having the best time in the Florida Keys visiting Steve's mom and dad this week. Today, it was cold for Floridians, but we loved the sunshine (and were thankful for awesome neighbors who were likely shoveling the snow from our driveway back home).⁣
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We are so thankful for a flexible schedule and opportunities like this one to share time with family. Life seems to pass us by so quickly the older we get and we're fortunate to be able to travel and share experiences with the people we love most. ⁣
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Feeling especially blessed tonight, in the beautiful Florida Keys.
  • We enjoyed a delicious dinner tonight at Hideaway Cafe on Grassy Key with Steve's mom and dad. We went early at 5 p.m. for the sunset dinner menu which has smaller portions and the most beautiful views of the sunset. ⁣
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The food was fresh and made-to-order and served by gracious and professional staff who made us feel right at home. ⁣
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Hideaway is a great restaurant choice for dinner if you're in the Florida Keys. Get a reservation ahead of time, as it fills up quickly, even at 5 p.m.
  • Need some inspiration for staying healthy while traveling? Good news! We are taking over the @noom Instagram stories this afternoon and hope you’ll all follow along as we share tips on how to make healthy living choices while on a cruise ship. We’ll take you inside the beautiful @celebritycruises Edge and show you how we stayed on track with our Noom goals while still enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation. Be sure to follow @noom! Our takeover has just begun. 😁
  • The Rooftop Garden is a unique space on the top deck of the @celebrityedge. There’s no water slide on this ship, no go-carts, and the’s no rock wall for climbing. Instead the Rooftop Garden provides a “living urban playscape inspired by childhood playgrounds and designed to waken the inner child in all of us,” according to the Celebrity Cruises website. There are live plants, comfortable outdoor seating, and unique art installations that set the space apart from anything else at sea. @cruisecelebrity
  • Blu is a restaurant on the Celebrity Edge that is dedicated to guests in Aqua Class.  It serves “clean, crisp flavors and inventive cuisine” in a gorgeous blue venue. To give you an example of the types of entrees served, for dinner tonight Blu is offering seared duck breast with wilted chard, farro risotto, and black cherry jus; a cracked pepper corn-crusted tuna salad, watercress, and dijon vinaigrette; and pumpkin gnocchi with sautéed arugula, sundries tomatoes, marinated artichokes, goat cheese and basil pesto. What would you order?
  • Yes, cruise ships are huge, but if you do a little exploring, you’ll find that the designers have included many small spots perfect for intimate conversation and watching the world go by. We found this nook in Eden, on deck 5 of the Celebrity Edge, near the stern.

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