We love to see the diversity of backgrounds and military/first responder pedigrees of the various brands we cover in the column. But this particular installment of Veteran Vices represents all four branches of the military, as well as the U.S. Intelligence Community — the latter being a first for this column.
The founders of Four Branches Bourbon embody a rich history of service to this country at the highest levels possible. Represented among them are veterans of Navy SEAL Teams, Army Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
When cofounder and former Marine Rick Franco was driving home one day, the idea came to him about making a barrel of bourbon in memory of his classmate from the Virginia Military Institute, fellow Marine officer and Agency colleague Greg Wright, who was killed in action overseas while working for the CIA.
He then called his friend, Mike Trott, an Air Force and CIA veteran, about this idea.
Trott recalled his memories of helping to repatriate fallen CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann (another Marine), who was the first American killed in action after 9/11 in Afghanistan.
Soon, Harold Underdown (Navy) and RJ Casey (Army) joined the conversation about making a special blend of bourbon to honor the memory of their former comrades.
Their desire was to provide a way for them, and everyone else, to honor all of the unsung heroes in our lives, including those who work in the shadows. They also decided the only way they could do this was to change the narrative around drinking.
Part of this effort included trademarking the phrase “Drink Honorably.” The idea was to promote an ethos of not drinking to forget but encouraging people to “Sip to Remember.” This has now become the entire mission of Four Branches Bourbon.
They’ve also enlisted the support of UFC six-time world champion, actor and U.S. Army veteran, Randy Couture, to be a Brand Champion to help deliver their brand message.
Their Founders Blend consists of an age-average six-year blend, four-grain, 96-proof bourbon, which turned out incredibly smooth, with a warm and not-too-sweet flavor that’s quickly become one of our favorite veteran spirits to date. Founders Blend recently won The South’s Best Spirit Award for Best Veteran-Owned brand.
Their charity work includes partnerships with Folds of Honor, Third Option Foundation, and the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation. Additionally, they support Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture GI Foundation for assisting veterans in need.
Four Branches is available online for direct consumer shipment to 33 states through their website. They’re expanding into Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky. Retail sales in Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., are in the works. Other states will follow, and they have already secured two major national distribution contracts.
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