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Special Forces Bourbon

Company supporting local Green Berets

Josh Younk, tasting room staff, points out the features of 1st Special Forces Bourbon made by the Heritage Distilling Company. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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It's easy to toast the Green Berets and their families in our community - thanks to a special bottling a local distillery has done for our local Special Forces unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.     

As of November 2016, sales of the 1st Special Forces Group Bourbon Whiskey have raised $40,000 for three charities supported by members, families and alumni of the 1st Special Forces Group.  According to Hannah Hanley, general manager, Heritage Distilling Company, $25 from the sale of each bottle is donated to: 1st Special Forces Group Goldstar Families, Chapter XVI Special Forces Scholarship Program and Special Forces Association Chapter XVI.

"We are a small business and we are honored to be able to donate this much money to these worthy charities," said Hanley.

The partnership between 1st Special Forces Group soldiers and Heritage Distilling Company began when Sgt. Maj. Scott Olson, a whiskey and spirits aficionado, discovered the company's Cask Club.  For a fee, members of the Cask Club customize their choice of spirits which are then stored in a private 10-liter oak cask for aging. What started out as a small project to share with his 1SF Group buddies, blossomed into a charitable project with the support of Heritage Distilling Company.  It is important to note the product is not endorsed by the U.S. military and that this is an off-duty project.

The bourbon is hugely popular and sales soar during Menton Week at JBLM. Menton Week is a reunion celebration with the 1st Special Forces Group and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment. The unit was part of a joint Canadian-American unit during World War II. Staff members from Heritage Distilling participated in some of the events.  "We release the new run during Menton Week and we expect this next batch to raise another $40,000 for these charities," said Hanley.  "The event was hugely popular among our staff, who had the opportunity to fire automatic weapons at the range as part of the activities."

With the lineage of the unit and the commitment to heritage by the company, the partnership is a good fit.  "We are all about the heritage at the Heritage Distilling Company," she said, while pointing out historic photos from the company founders' history.  One of the photos immediately catches your eye.  It is of three children sitting on the back of an elk.  It turns out the family domesticated elk back in the day and now a line of premium spirits is called "Elk Rider".

Heritage Distilling Company is a designated "craft distillery". "This means we get over fifty-one percent of our raw ingredients from Washington state.  Many of the recipes we use are traditional family recipes," said Hanley. The company refers to their products as field-to-flask and uses local family farms such as the Scrupps' farm in Odessa, Washington.

For military families that may not have the six to eight months it takes to age a cask with the Cask Club, there is another option.  "We offer a My Batch class.  It is a three-hour hands-on distilling class using our Kentucky Hillbilly Stills.  Participants leave with a mini take-home barrel to age their whiskey at home," she said. Offered 1-2 times a month, the instructor teaches you about the distilling process beginning to end. It also includes a tour and a food pairing with several of the products sold by the company.

The Heritage Distilling Company has two locations in Gig Harbor, one in Portland and are in the works to open a Seattle location.

Heritage Distilling Company, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; Closed Sunday, 3207 57th St. Ct. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.509.0008,

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