Even after prohibition's repeal on December 5, 1933, no whiskey was legally made in the Phoenix-metro area until Arizona Distilling Co came along in 2013. Far from changing local history overnight, the distillery's team spent seven years refining their technique, sourcing local grains, and parsing plenty of legalese. The fruit of all that labor is Copper City Bourbon, barrel-aged for at least two years and named for an Arizona brewery that was shut down during prohibition. Though bourbon remains the micro-distillery's cornerstone, lead distiller Jason Grossmiller has already begun branching out into small-batch gin made with local botanicals and Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey, locally-sourced grain whiskey. In addition to being poured as samples in the tasting room, the company's libations grace stores and restaurants throughout the state, as well as speakeasy bars hidden inside desert mesas.
It's not always popular with the community when someone decides to repurpose a historic building. But Christopher Lucidi has done it with respect to everyone involved. Upon making the former Fire Station No. 1 the new home of his eponymous distillery, he's changed what he's needed to, but kept what should be kept. The facade is the same—save for a shiny new sign that, yes, still says Fire Station No. 1—and the inside is a love letter to the first responders who once filled it. Logos from local fire departments brand handmade tables supported by old hydrants, and a giant American flag stitched together from old firehoses was made by Christopher himself.
While locals are often eager to come by to see what he's done with the building, they're also there to get a drink. Christopher 's first spirit is Forceable Entry, a vodka named for the firefighter technique. Moonshine and gin are on the menu as well, with whiskey and bourbon on the way once they're fully aged.
Starting with grains, herbs, and fruits grown by local farmers, the master distillers at Thumb Butte Distillery craft small-batch whiskey, gin, vodka, and dark rum. They teams up with area farm families to create distinct strains of wheat, barley, and rye. The result is a stable of spirits that pay homage to the American West. There's the Rodeo Rye that sets fire to palates with the flavors of vanilla, pepper, and oak. The Western Sage Gin—winner of the 2015 silver metal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition—balances the dessert flavor of sage with the aromatic licorice taste of fennel. Folks looking to sample the run of spirits can pop into the distillery's tasting room or get a behind-the-scenes look during tasting tours.