Tonto Apache Tribe, Heritage Distilling to partner on distillery and tasting room

The Tonto Apache Tribe said last week it would partner with Heritage Distilling Company to develop a spirits distillery and tasting room adjacent to the tribe’s Payson, Ariz.-based Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. 

The distillery will produce Heritage’s branded spirits as well as a new line of Tonto Apache brands crafted to reflect tribal flavors and the local region.

The business will be Arizona’s first tribally owned and operated distillery on Native land and marks the second tribal partnership for Gig Harbor, Wash.-based Heritage. The distiller partnered with the Chehalis Tribe in Washington state to open the Talking Cedar brewery and distillery in 2020, overcoming a federal ban on liquor production in Indian Country. 

In Arizona, the new distillery and tasting room will be part of the Tonto Apache tribe’s Apache Corners Initiative, a multi-year development project that aims to create new economic opportunities for the tribe and the surrounding community. Apache Corners is expected to create nearly $90 million in economic impact, including more than 1,000 new jobs and $30.5 million in new wages. 

“We are excited to partner with Heritage Distilling Company to bring this project to life,” Tonto Apache Tribal Chairman Caivin Johnson said in a statement. “This partnership will create new jobs, generate revenue, and help us to attract new visitors to our community.”

The distillery is expected to be completed in early 2024. In addition to the distillery, the Apache Corners Initiative also includes plans for a grocery store, new health care clinic, restaurants, new convenience store, manufacturing and distribution spaces, office space and expanded accommodations and amenities at the Mazatzal Casino & Hotel. Total investment in the project is expected to be nearly $100 million once all development is complete.

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