Tucson’s Hamilton Distillers, makers of real craft whiskey, harness the power of mesquite to capture the true flavor of Tucson
|By Louie Christensen
Tucson’s youth didn’t grow up with friendly oaks and maternal willow trees to climb. No, in the desert we climbed Mesquite trees. We scrambled up that dusty bark, pushed our way through the thorns, to climb up to that plank of wood crudely tied to a sturdy branch. So, to a Tucsonan…mesquite is the smell of adventure.
It’s also the smell of memories, of gathering the people we love around a fire pit filled with glowing mesquite embers. The smell of mesquite smoke takes us back to our past; to when we snuck that first kiss, laughed with friends, or listened to our family’s stories that we’ve heard a thousand times but couldn’t wait to hear again.
It’s the smell of food, of great food; locally sourced and created with quality in mind. From our newest steak houses, to our favorite spot to grab a carne asada street taco; that sweet and savory smoke bridges cultures and brings us together around the table.
So when Tucson’s Hamilton Distillers released a mesquite smoked single malt whiskey, it captured the city’s heart.
Now, when you hear “Tucson whiskey,” you may be tempted to envision a dusty Old Tucson saloon set piece, with old timey bottles filled with warm, over-proofed XXX whiskey. But, you won’t find any wild-west shootout tropes, cowboy silhouettes, or cattle brand logos anywhere near Hamilton Distillers. No, Hamilton Distillers isn’t chasing after snowbird souvenir sales, they are chasing after creating amazing whiskey, and people have taken notice.
This year, Whiskey Advocate named Whiskey Del Bac’s Dorado (their flagship mesquite smoked option) one of their “Six Great Under-the-Radar-Whiskies”, Esquire Magazine named it the 7th best whisky in the US, and it took home a gold medal from American Craft Spirits Association in 2018. They’re distributing as far as New York City, and have been making a huge splash across online whiskey review channels and circles.
Hamilton Distillers represents the best of Tucson. Why? Because their Whiskey Del Bac line isn’t worth buying simply because it’s from Tucson and it’s nice to support our local purveyors, it’s worth buying because it is flat out, leave-your-qualifiers-at-home, delicious. Tucson has entered a new era. We no longer need to rely on southwest kitsch, or dude ranch clichés to draw people in. We are a city of creators, of tastemakers, of craftsmen, and their work speaks for itself.
Try a glass of Whiskey Del Bac Dorado, you’ll see.