Local Sourcing Can Save Money, Earn Green Points

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 12:00 am  

Phil Brandon, who started Rocktown Distillery, is using several Arkansas products, from the grains used in the liquor to barrels for aging and boxes for shipping.

"The more wood you can use in a project, the more likely you're going to use local material," he said.

In recent years, Anthony Forest Products Co. of El Dorado has seen an increase in the number of customers who are interested in locally sourced and environmentally sustainable wood, said Kerlin Drake, vice president of marketing for the lumber company.

"There's been a big demand, and mainly because wood is renewable," Drake said. "You can go replant it. You can't go replant steel."

Keith Newton is a Little Rock artist and furniture maker who primarily works with wood, which he sources very locally sometimes. He lives and works in a brick studio near the intersection of Arch and 23rd streets.

"I bought my sawmill after the tornado came through the neighborhood in '99 in order to pick up and use some of the trees that were blown down," Newton said.

He ended up using some of that lumber on the renovation of the Governor's Mansion.

"I did the kitchen of the Governor's Mansion, upstairs back in the private part. The Huckabees were there, and I used some lumber that was blown down in that tornado that crossed the Governor's Mansion," Newton said.

Local Spirits

Phil Brandon is turning to local sources for a significant amount of the products needed for his new venture. Brandon formerly worked at Alltel Corp. About the time that company was being acquired by Verizon Wireless, he decided to leave to turn a personal interest into a new business.

Rocktown Distillery recently began producing liquor, made using Arkansas grains, at its facility near the headquarters of Heifer International in downtown Little Rock.

"We are buying all our grains from Arkansas farmers through a seed dealer in Stuttgart," Brandon said. "We use yellow corn and soft red winter wheat in order to make our bourbon and vodka and gin."

Rocktown's vodka and bourbon will be made with all local ingredients, but not so with the gin, which derives its flavor from a mix of herbs and botanicals such as juniper berries, coriander, licorice root and many others. Brandon tried to find local sources for some of these ingredients, but so far to no avail.



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