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Phil Brandon spent the morning unloading giant metal pieces — square tubs, long cylinders affixed with pressure gauges, large copper contraptions that called to mind steampunk submarines. In a matter of weeks, he plans to connect them all in his East Sixth Street warehouse in Little Rock and start churning out hand-crafted booze, small batches of bourbon, gin and vodka, which he’ll bottle in house and distribute throughout Arkansas in 750 ML bottles.

The idea for Rock Town, which bills itself as Arkansas’ first craft distillery, came to Brandon, a former acquisitions man at Alltel, when the company merged with Verizon, he said this morning at his warehouse. He figured he was soon out of job or, at best, in a new one and was tired of the corporate life. So he took his love for small batch single malt Scotch and decided to try his hand at distillation, but with an Arkansas focus. To get the idea off the ground, he visited distilleries, took several classes, sought guidance from a former master distiller at Maker’s Mark and filled out three inches worth of paperwork to secure a federal permit.

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