Want to drink some terrific Bourbon and help America’s wounded veterans at the same time? Pick up a bottle of Spirit of America ($40), one of the newest whiskeys on the market.
Spirit of America may have been launched recently, but the name was actually trademarked back in 1980 by Mike Roberts, a member of a powerhouse marketing family responsible for the success of brands such as Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Patron Tequila. Roberts never brought the brand to fruition, and several years ago his children decided to revive the idea. They partnered with MGP of Indiana, owners of the historic Lawrenceburg Distillery and producers of famous labels such as High West, Bulleit and Templeton. Spirit of America is distilled at Lawrenceburg and then filtered, blended and bottled at SOA’s new Hobson & Roberts Distillery in Indianapolis.
Stylistically, Spirit of America is a wheated Bourbon—the spirit is still composed of 51% corn, as the law stipulates, but wheat has been substituted for rye. The best known wheated Bourbon in modern times is Maker’s Mark, but SOA contains nearly double the amount of wheat at 45%. It’s safe to say that the whiskey is richer and sweeter than Maker’s, but also spicier—edgy, in a word. The spirit enters the mouth sweetly, but the middle palate is dominated by flavors of fresh herbs and peppered bread dough. It’s well balanced at 86 proof (43% alcohol), and makes a formidable Manhattan.
Aside from the quality of the product, one of the impressive things about Spirit of America is that $1 per bottle is donated to Hope for the Warriors, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping post-9/11 service members who have suffered physical and psychological damage in battle. Hope for the Warriors provides comprehensive services for veterans and their families, and has a low ratio of administrative costs (roughly 90% of the money raised goes directly into therapeutic programs). Spirit of America’s commitment to this charity is permanent and ongoing, as are the problems of the veterans involved.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); for more information, go to amazon.com