Still Gassed Up: Motor City Gas Celebrates One Year of Whiskey

When we asked Rich Lockwood, founder of Motor City Gas, who he would like to have a drink with most to celebrate the distillery’s first anniversary, he replied, “I would have drink with my friend Jim Ward.”

Ward, an early supporter and creator of the Motor City Gas logo — one of the most kick-ass logos in all of Michigan in our opinion — passed away just before the opening of the distillery, never getting to see it in all its glory. ‘The Ward’ still adorns the cocktail menu, a touching tribute to Lockwood’s friend and colleague.

We are certain that Ward would be proud of Lockwood and crew for putting together such a great whiskey distilling operation at 325 E. 4th St. in Royal Oak. We wrote about Motor City Gas a few months after they opened and headed back this week to see how things were going.

When asked about their opening day on March 17, 2015, Lockwood reminisced that they only had one type of whiskey and no cash register, but were determined to get things up-and-running or risk never opening. It was great to see that things have progressed so nicely at the distillery. Many more whiskeys have been added to their repertoire, as well as ancillary products like whiskey soaked cherries and merchandise.

“I make whiskeys that I like,” said Lockwood. “It’s been great that other people have liked them, too.”

It is easy to see that Motor City Gas’ whiskey has been a hit, as evidenced by the outpouring of positive online reviews and the recent Silver Medal awarded by the American Craft Spirit Association for their Oak Town Brown in the ‘Wheat Whiskey’ category.

Motor City Gas Royal Oak

What’s next for Motor City Gas? Lockwood explained that they will continue to take things slow, focusing on experimenting with new varieties of whiskey while remembering to have fun. Distribution is not in the works, although you may be able to find a bottle or two at a few local restaurants or bars.

As for new creations, Motor City Gas recently released Belly Up Bourbon, a triple barrel-aged bourbon. For their anniversary celebration on St. Patrick’s Day, they will release Hot Mess, a nine-grain malt whiskey. Additional releases slated for the Spring include a pale ale single malt, an apple wood smoked single malt, a barrel-aged corn whiskey, and a midnight wheated bourbon.

The cocktail menu in their tasting room changes from time to time, so we recommend sipping their Apple Sauce’d cocktail before it’s gone. It packs a punch and will have you pining for Cider Mill season to return.

Cancel whatever St. Patrick’s Day plans you already have and raise a toast at Motor City Gas. The party will go strong from 10 AM to 10 PM, with raffles, food and more.


We asked Rich Lockwood about five of his favorite Michigan things.

1. Favorite Michigan beer? Stencil Stout from River Rouge Brewing Company, right across the street.
2. If you could do a shot of whiskey anywhere in Michigan, where would it be? In my garage, where it all started.
3. If you could have a few drinks with any past or present Detroit athlete, who would it be? Mickey Redmond.
4. If you could create a Michigan-themed coney dog, what would be on it? Beef jerky.
5. Favorite Michigan season? Fall. Apple cider and whiskey are a great combination.

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