For some, the best way to remember the past is to use it in some way. Maybe it’s through education or footage of an event turned into a documentary for future generations to learn from. For American Freedom Distillery (whom you may have seen on our list of sustainable liquor brands), it’s literally using a piece of history. This month, the St. Petersburg, Florida-based distillery announced that they will be packaging their Horse Soldier Signature Bourbon in bottles pressed in molds made from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site after the events of September 11, 2001.
The group behind the distillery didn’t decide on doing this just because — a move that could arguably be seen as a money-making venture that would capitalize on the terror wrought on the country. For the proprietors of American Freedom Distillery, it’s personal.
The founders are a group of special operations officers who answered the call to defend the country just days after the events of September 11, 2001. These men found themselves on horseback in a Green Beret insertion in Northern Afghanistan (hence the nickname, and the eventual name of their bourbon, Horse Soldiers). Their work was depicted in the 2018 movie 12 Strong, as well as the CNN documentary Legion of Brothers and the American Response Monument located at Ground Zero in New York City.
Using the steel from the WTC, the bottles are molded at Anchor Glass in Indiana. The decision to pay a premium for American-made glass, according to the brand, is reflective of their dedication to pursuing (and forwarding) the American Dream.
The bourbon itself is an non-age-statement wheated bourbon, bottled at barrel proof (around 113) and also at 95-proof. Each barrel that goes into the Horse Soldier Signature was selected by hand.
A portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold by American Freedom goes towards maintaining the America’s Response Monument (nicknamed the Horse Soldier Statue), which is located in Liberty Park in Lower Manhattan. The statue is dedicated to the U.S. Special Forces and commemorates the Horse Soldiers. In addition, the distillery also contributes to the Warrior Sailing Program helping vets deal with PTSD and injuries, the Green Beret Foundation, the Armed Forces Families Foundation, and many more local Florida non-profits.
If you find yourself in the downtown Warehouse Arts District of St. Pete and want to meet the veterans behind Horse Soldier Bourbon, you can visit their 16,000 square-foot distillery, which will, as of summer 2018, feature two concepts — America Neat Grill & Whiskey House — in addition to daily tours, an education center, and a distillery shop. For those that don’t fancy whiskey, American Freedom also makes rum.