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Heritage Creates Dedicated Craft Brands to Support Military and First Responder Communities

Discover Heritage Distilling Company's (HDC) groundbreaking SOS series, a premium line of spirits with a philanthropic twist. Learn how HDC, the most awarded craft distiller, blends exceptional spirits with a heartfelt mission to support military members, first responders, veterans and their families.

Heritage Creates Dedicated Craft Brands to Support Military and First Responder Communities

In the realm of craft distilleries, Heritage Distilling Company (HDC), acclaimed as the most awarded craft distiller for the past decade by the American Distilling Institute, goes beyond crafting exceptional spirits. HDC has embarked on a unique journey to establish a dedicated new line of premium spirits starting with the Special Operations Salute (SOS) series. It has already proven to be a first-of-its-kind philanthropic initiative in the distilled spirits space. This blog post delves into HDC's commitment to producing premium spirits and raising substantial funds for important communities, including active military members, first responders, veterans and their families.

Military Roots Laid the Groundwork for HDC

Embracing a rich military legacy, Heritage Distilling Company stands proudly under the leadership of co-founders Drew and Sara Kellerman, distinguished veterans of the United States Army. The inception of the distillery took root over a decade ago during one fateful evening around their backyard fire pit, culminating in HDC's achievement as the most decorated craft distillery in North America over the past ten years.

Drew and Sara met at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and graduated in 1991 during the first Gulf War as second lieutenants through the Army ROTC program. Drew accepted a Regular Army commission as an Infantry officer. After attending the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and Ranger School, he was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light). From 1992 to 1995, he served honorably as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Scout Platoon Leader, and Company Executive Officer, all with the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds”.

Sara has over a decade of military leadership experience as a commissioned officer, UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot, Flight Instructor & Unit Commander. She was responsible for the training, morale, fitness, and overall combat readiness of pilots and support personnel in Bravo Company, 4th of the 25th Aviation Regiment, “Knighthawks” at Wheeler Army Airfield on Oahu. She also served as an EH-60 Platoon Leader, Assistant S-3 Training, and Company Executive Officer for Bravo Company 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Huachuca, AZ. Sara is a graduate of several U.S. Army schools and professional development courses, including the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Aviation Officer Basic Course, Rotary Wing Aviator Course, and Airborne School.

With 31 years of marital partnership and two children, Drew now serves as HDC's Vice President of Production, while Sara is Director of Human Resources. Their unwavering commitment extends to the "Special Operations Salute" series, a heartfelt tribute that honors and supports service members and their families who have made significant sacrifices for our nation.

The Deployment of the Special Operations Salute Series:

The genesis of the SOS series can be traced back eight years when Heritage Distilling Company, in collaboration with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, initiated a limited fundraising bottling run that raised nearly $150,000. Fast forward to the present, what started as a local initiative has evolved into a nationwide endeavor dedicated to initially honoring and supporting the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) members, veterans, first responders, and their families. Launching with the Army SOF line in November 2023, the SOS line plans to feature several editions released in rapid succession, each dedicated to a branch of service. The team is also planning a line extension focused on regular military members who do not serve in Special Operations, police officers, sheriffs, troopers, firefighters, and other first responders. An additional line extension is planned for family members of active duty, retired, and fallen heroes, knowing that the families sacrifice as much as those who put on the uniform.

Artistic Craftsmanship: The SOS Series

Distinguished by an unwavering commitment to precision, the SOS series stands out not only for its premium blend but also for the meticulously designed packaging, crafted by veteran artists.

The initial release of the first SOS whiskey comprises two 6-year-old bourbons and a 7-year-old rye whiskey, meticulously mashed, fermented, distilled, and aged in-house by HDC. This premium whiskey underwent six years of maturation in charred American Oak casks custom-made for HDC in Spain using old-world cooperage methods. The result was bottled at "Howitzer Strength," a robust 52.5% ABV, or 105 Proof, as a special wink to the air support supplied by members of the United States Air Force flying the AC-130 gunship with a 105 mm cannon mounted in its belly.

The blend of these three super-premium whiskeys unfolds on the palate with a nuanced array of flavors. The amber-hued liquid reveals aromatic notes of tobacco, smoke, caramel, honey, and pear, while the taste profile introduces layers of vanilla, chocolate, floral bee pollen, clove, and sweet malt.

Their custom packaging and artwork, a collaboration with artists and veterans Michael Solovey and Serge Averbukh, transcend the ordinary. Averbukh's iconography and Solovey's lithographs grace each bespoke package, capturing the essence of each edition and offering a sincere homage to the Special Operations Forces. This attention to detail and artistic collaboration elevates the SOS series, making it a truly unique and meaningful expression of Heritage Distilling Company's dedication to quality and appreciation for service.

The Army SOF Edition: A Resounding Success

The inaugural release of the SOS series, the Army SOF edition, debuted in November 2023, marking the beginning of a groundbreaking fundraising initiative. The first 2,500 bottles sold out within weeks, generating an immediate $25,000 for partnering non-profit organizations. By the end of February 2024, more than 6,000 bottles had been sold, generating more than $60,000 in donations for worthy charities.

Expanding the Mission by Empowering Nonprofits

This special whiskey series is set to feature multiple editions, each dedicated to specific branches, units, and events, with the goal of each edition to raise over $1 million for qualified nonprofits. The success of the program lies not only in Heritage Distilling's commitment but also in strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations. The initiative allows participating organizations to drive their own sales proceeds through dedicated URL links and QR codes empowering nonprofits to actively engage their supporters. They hope to create a mutually beneficial relationship that extends beyond the initial purchase and that serves as a recurring revenue stream for the organization. Each sale helps each respective organization build its database for future outreach.

Heritage Distilling has already entered into non-profit partnerships with the Green Beret Foundation, Special Forces Chapter 16 Association, the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors (The FEW), the Honor Foundation, the HunterSeven Foundation, the Marine Raider Foundation, and more. Active discussions are ongoing with more organizations. Interested patrons can learn more and see the full and expanding list of non-profit partnerships here.

More on Heritage Distilling Co.' SOS Series

Through this new and innovative program designed to support non-profit charities, Heritage Distilling has not only crafted exceptional whiskeys but also forged a path of philanthropy that honors and supports those who have dedicated their lives to service. As the SOS series continues to make waves across the nation, you can learn more about the Salute Series and the positive impact businesses can have when they invest in supporting our military and first responder communities. Join us in raising a glass to those who serve and sacrifice.