American whiskey, or bourbon, is synonymous with Kentucky. But a group of former Green Berets have developed a brand of bourbon inspired by their time riding into battle to fight the Taliban after 9/11. These American soldiers fought a Taliban stronghold in the mountainous terrain of northern Afghanistan, and one of the few ways to navigate the region was riding Afghan horses. This Special Operations team became nicknamed the Horse Soldiers. If this sounds familiar, it might be because of the 2018 movie 12 Strong starring Chris Hemsworth, based on the true story of the Horse Soldiers.
“I’m on the ground, I met my first commander, and the commander said, ‘get on this horse,’ and we’re riding to our hideout. That began the mystic of the Horse Soldier,” retired Green Beret Scott Neil tells Fox News.
But once home from his tour of duty, Neil joined a veterans’ entrepreneurial training program, and along with his partners he toured distilleries in Kentucky, Ireland, and Scotland to receive an education in whiskey making.
Called Horse Soldier Bourbon, the brand is made at a distillery in Kentucky. But since Neil and his other retired partners, all of whom worked at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, the group selected a property in St. Petersburg as its headquarters and opened a tasting room, restaurant, and event facility called Urban Stillhouse.
“We’re growing to where we’re going to build more restaurants, and we’re going to build a new distillery in Kentucky. It’s like a dream,” Neil tells the reporter.
A dream that is far from the warzones of Afghanistan.
Horse Soldier Bourbon has won several awards in competitions and is available in 16 states but not in Canada – yet.