Every day, I think about my military service. Usually, it’s “thank God, I don’t have to wake up at 4 a.m..” Or, I’m thankful my coffee doesn’t taste like boiled peanuts mixed with motor oil–Army coffee. And I remember my fallen friends, my close calls and wonder how my brothers and sisters are doing.

They’re all healthy thoughts, more like consideration and memories, in contrast to the soul-gripping pain I once endured. As I’ve said many times, I’ll never be the same person I was before I deployed; I am better.

One of the reasons why I am better is the profession I lucked into–the spirits industry, specifically bourbon. Every distillery helps veterans in some way. Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit (Tom Bulleit is a Vietnam veteran), Four Roses, Wild Turkey and others have all helped the veteran community or are veterans, and it’s one of the reasons why bourbon stole my heart so many years ago.

The latest is Woodford Reserve honoring the memory of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers who gave their lives in service to our nation with a special engraving program around the Memorial Day weekend benefitting the Screaming Eagle Foundation.

At the distillery in Varsailles, Ky., Woodford will engrave bottles May 26 through 29 and donate at least $5 per engraving to the “Screaming Eagle Foundation.”  Louisville/Elizabethtown area liquor stores and various Kentucky military installations will host Woodford Reserve engravings supporting the Screaming Eagle Foundation from May 11 through June 16. (Like the 101st Airborne Division Association’s Facebook page.

Outside of Kentucky, ReserveBar.com will be engraving bottles, too, over the Memorial Day weekend (May 26-29): Use promotional code WR101st to receive free engraving.

This effort is a part of BRAVE, Brown-Forman’s veteran’s resource group, to honor and recognize the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women serving in the military.

If you’re not available to purchase bottles during the above dates, you can always make make donations to the Association online. Although I never served in the 101st, I’ve long admired the Screaming Eagles. With your donation, you’ll be honoring heroes.


Iraq War veteran Fred Minnick is the author of several spirits books. Bourbon hit stores in October, and Rum Curious launches June 1.