The Historic Reason Horse Soldier Bourbon Got Its Name

Horse Soldier Bourbon outside barn
Horse Soldier Bourbon outside barn - @horsesoldierbourbon / Instagram

Bourbon (not to be confused with any old whiskey) is a craft that diehard fans take seriously. Anything less than the utmost attention to detail and commitment to top quality won't cut it -- at least, if you're Horse Soldier Bourbon. The veteran-owned bourbon brand was founded in 2015 by Scott Neil, John Koko, and Elizabeth Pritchard-Koko, all of whom were part of the Horse Soldier operation of the early 2000s.

This team was the first group of soldiers deployed to fight Al-Qaeda mere hours after the 9/11 attack. A dozen Green Berets were deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Detachment Alpha 595, a three-week counterterrorism mission unexpectedly conducted on horseback (the team hadn't received any prior equestrian training). The 12 horses were a gift from the warlord General Dotsum, an existing adversary of the Taliban with whom the Green Berets joined forces in the Hindu Kush mountains. The mission changed American history forever, inspired the 2018 movie "12 Strong", and laid the foundation for Horse Soldier Bourbon.

The bottle is designed with a cutout of a mounted soldier modeled after America's Response Monument, a bronze statue in New York City's Liberty Park positioned to watch over Ground Zero. The New York Port Authority salvaged one of the steel I-beams from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, gifted it to the troops attending the monument's dedication, and Horse Soldier Bourbon reforged the beam into its bottle mold -- ensuring every bottle of bourbon is touched by the steel.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

The Bourbon Brand Created By Veterans, In Celebration Of Veterans

Horse Soldier Bourbon trio
Horse Soldier Bourbon trio - @horsesoldierbourbon / Instagram

The Horse Soldier Bourbon team trained with whiskey distillers in Kentucky, Scotland, and Ireland to learn their craft straight from the masters. As brand ambassador Will Summers, retired U.S. Army infantry officer and Green Beret special forces member, explained to Great Day Houston, "It's the American spirit and, historically, soldiers have returned from battle and made bourbon. ... It just made sense for us to come back and kind of follow in those footsteps." Horse Soldier continues to hire other veterans for the bourbon's promotion, production, and distribution -- and the company also started the Veterans Artisan Distillers Guide, a 501(C)(6) membership-based nonprofit to partner with and create a community with other veteran-owned distilleries in America.

Befitting of the militant vigilance from whence it came, Horse Soldier is a palatable, smooth, high-end sipping bourbon, not a cocktail ingredient. Its trio of offerings collectively won double gold three times in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2022. The Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($49.99) is made in small batches of four-year aged bourbon, clocking in at 87-proof or 43.5% ABV with sweetcorn and caramel top notes and a spiced rye finish. The Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($74.99) is vanilla-forward with ginger, cherries, baking spices, and a smooth finish. Bringing up the rear is the Barrel Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($89.99), a robust, high-wheat, non-chill-filtered bourbon with dominant flavor notes of butterscotch, oak, and stone fruit, toting a thick, full-bodied mouthfeel.

Read the original article on Tasting Table