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Vets: Willie’s Distillery

Willie’s Distillery, based out of Ennis, Montana, was founded by Willie Blazer and his wife, Robin. Willie came onto the bourbon scene with nearly 15 years of military service under his belt, including time spent in 3rd Ranger Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group and the Montana Army National Guard. During this time, he logged deployments to both Afghanistan and Malaysia. He also worked overseas as a government contractor, smoke-jumper, hotshot firefighter, and paramedic.

But how he wound up in the bourbon industry pre-dates all of that. Willie grew up in the Tennessee/North Carolina border region of the southeast — the home of moonshine and whiskey running. He spent his early days around homemade spirits and continued to pursue this hobby on the side throughout his life. While working as a contractor during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, he decided that he’d pursue this passion full-time. He continued to work overseas in order to save up the substantial start-up capital required to enter the bourbon business. We were first introduced to Willie’s Big Horn Bourbon by the folks at Team TORN (featured in RECOIL Issue 37). In addition to this flagship spirit, they also produce moonshine, vodka, Canadian whiskey, and a series of liqueurs that include huckleberry and chokecherry.

We’d love to say we’ve tried them all, but we’re still working on it. We’ll say that their Big Horn Bourbon runs sweet, with notes of vanilla and toast. Willie’s website features a list of suggested cocktails, but we enjoy it neat or with a single rock.

When asked what sets their brand apart from an increasingly crowded and hipster bourbon market, Willie himself had this to say: “We are one of the few veteran-owned distilleries in the nation and support numerous local veteran and first-responder organizations. Our tasting room has become a destination gathering place for veterans, LEOs, firefighters, and first responders … We are a distillery who loves the outdoors in every season and our employees enjoy hiking, hunting, shooting guns, archery, camping, fishing, skiing, cutting firewood, and chasing Yetis.”

Supported charities include Heroes and Horses, Big Sky Bravery, and the First Special Service Force Association. Check out their website (listed below) or stop in the next time you find yourself passing through Ennis Montana.

Willie’s Distillery:

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