'12 Strong' veterans to be featured at Destin Crafted

Special to The Log
John Koko (from left), Mark Nutsch, aand Scott Neil will attend the inaugural craft beer and bourbon festival in November. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

American Freedom Distillery is owned and operated by a group of veterans whose story is so riveting the blockbuster hit movie "12 Strong" was inspired by it. As an immediate response to the 9/11 attacks on our country, these U.S. Army soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan, where they completed some of the first missions in the War on Terror in the desert on horseback.

Today, these heroes run their distillery in Tampa, and Horse Soldier Bourbon is quickly becoming one of America’s most beloved small-batch bourbons taking over the market with the tagline “Legendary Men, Legendary Spirits.”

“American Freedom started on the back of horse in Yellowstone a little over three years ago,” said Scott Neil, U.S. Army Retired Master Sergeant, co-founder American Freedom Distillery. “We visited several craft distilleries and spent time understanding what was needed to start our own craft distillery. We trained in Scotland, Ireland, and Kentucky.”

On Nov. 1, 2, and 3, Neil and his comrades Mark Nutsch, Bob Pennington, and John Koko will be visiting Northwest Florida for Destin Crafted, the area’s inaugural craft beer and bourbon festival for charity. The festival will be hosted at The Henderson Beach Resort, and benefit Children in Crisis.

Fest goers with VIP access will have the opportunity to meet and talk with these whiskey-crafting war heroes and sample one of their rarest batches of bourbon at the VIP party at 5 p.m. Nov. 2. Horse Soldier (single barrel) will be available to sample at the main event on Saturday, Nov. 3. Those interested in attending the festival or VIP party can purchase tickets at any Wine World store, online at destincrafted.com, or on Facebook @ChansWineWorld.

“We support our troops and our military, not to mention we love craft spirits, so I was naturally thrilled when I heard about Horse Soldier Bourbon,” said Chan Cox, Destin Crafted founder and Wine World owner and founder. “I was even more thrilled when I tasted it. We are very excited to get to meet these American heroes and learn even more about their product.”

As a kick-off to the weekend festivities on Nov. 1, Wine World will host a bottle-signing and cocktail event at The Craft Bar in Destin. Guests of honor Nutsch, Pennington, Koko and Neil will be signing bottles and mingling with guests in the afternoon and specialty cocktails will be featured into the evening.

VIP tickets for Destin Crafted are $100 and include admission to all events. Tickets for Saturday only are $50. All proceeds will be donated to Children in Crisis, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. More information about the event is available online at destincrafted.com.

#DestinCrafted, presented by Wine World and hosted at The Henderson Resort pool deck, will feature more than 50 craft beers and small-batch bourbons alongside local foods. Live music entertainment will be performed by Boukou Groove, and guests will have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a to-be-announced prize. Learn more at destincrafted.com