What sets Merica Bourbon apart? We asked their co-founder.
Alarik is one of the co-founders of Merica Bourbon Whiskey, a relatively new entry into the growing bourbon market. Alarik is an Army veteran and the founder of Grunt Style, the 10-year old patriotic apparel company whose tee-shirts, hoodies and gear you see just about everywhere these days.
He co-founded Merica Bourbon with fellow vet, Marine Derek Sisson, who had been working in the spirits industry for a number of years.
Sisson was eager to capitalize on the great taste of bourbon and Alarik had the marketing savvy to promote the brand. So, Sisson approached Alarik with his plan to get into the whiskey business.
A significant roadblock to their venture was the fact that Alarik didn't drink bourbon. As a matter of fact, he didn't like the taste of bourbon at all. Sisson challenged him, Alarik told me. "He said, 'If I can get you to love the flavor, and switch from whatever you're drinking now, then let's do it.'"
So, the two joined forces and, after months of working on the flavor profile, Alarik finally had a drink he proudly declares is now his go-to drink. "That's the story," he says, "It's not fancy. It's not sexy. It just turned out to be the bourbon with a flavor you can enjoy. Simple as that."
How Would We Rate Merica Small Batch Bourbon?
After sampling a bottle I can attest that they've achieved their goal. Merica is indeed a smooth drinking bourbon. It's not overly complex, with all of the tasting notes you would expect from a solid bourbon.
It goes down easy and works well as either a sippin' whiskey or a mixer. In my opinion, it does compare favorably with many bourbons in the $35 to $50 range.
Currently Merica is put together in four different states, including Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. "It wasn't planned that way," says Alarik, "but it turned out that that was the best way we could make the kind of bourbon we wanted to make at the price we wanted to sell it at." The company's goal for 2020, however, is to move production entirely to Kentucky. To that end they've secured one of the oldest distilleries in the bluegrass state.
"Our goal is to produce a good-flavored, blue collar bourbon. We want to be the $25 bourbon of choice from Kentucky," Alarik declared. "We want to be a blue collar bourbon at a blue collar price." Sounds like a lot of successful United States-based companies, doesn't it?
"We're just trying to have fun. Be available and have fun. We want to be the Tito's Vodka of bourbon. A grass roots, solid flavorful bourbon," he emphasized. "It's American. We have a good story. And to me bourbon is a truly American story."
I asked Daniel what his best moment or memory was this far in his journey launching Merica.
"The day we launched was in Houston two years ago," he recalled. "It was in the beginning of hurricane Harvey. We had a small launch in a small chain store when Harvey hit. By the time we were driving back the waters were rising and the flood hit. The next day, and the next two weeks, we stopped all operation and we did nothing but support, help and coordinate efforts to rescue and assist as many fellow Texans as possible. That to me was probably the proudest moment in the company, that meant the most to me."
"Hundreds and thousands of people participated," he continued fondly. "We donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations. We slept on the floor of the warehouse and just ran rescue operations day and night. That was a great time."
That story says a lot about the company, where their priorities lie and the positive attitude they've taken in defining the community-centered mission of Merica Bourbon.