HAMILTON — The Hamilton Party Store, 3990 E. Bellefontaine Road, hosted a military hero and bourbon maker over the weekend.
Scott Neil from American Freedom Distillery visited the store Aug. 1.
“Their product was introduced to us a little over a year ago and after researching the company and learning of their history, I thought, what a great opportunity to help a veteran-owned company,” said Hamilton Party Store owner Wil Howard ahead of the event.
Neil, who served in the U.S. Special Forces for 25 years, founded American Freedom Distillery in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2015.
Neil was among small teams of Green Berets engaged in a first push into northern Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
“This region’s inhospitable, mountainous terrain made efforts and enemy engagements on wild Afghan horses a necessity for one Special Operations team,” says the history on the Horse Soldier Bourbon website. “Nicknamed the Horse Soldiers, all these brave men are honored today by America’s Response Monument overlooking Ground Zero in New York City.”
The New York City Port Authority donated steel recovered from the World Trade Center to Neil. Each bottle of Horse Soldier is formed in molds made from the steel wreckage from 9/11.
American Freedom has distilleries in Columbus, Ohio; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Somerset, Kentucky.
Howard visited the Ohio site and said he was impressed with the product. Horse Soldier Bourbon has been on the shelves at Hamilton Party Store for around a year.
“It has done very well,” Howard said. Horse Soldier makes a variety of bourbons.
Aug. 1, 25 cases were unveiled in concert with Neil’s visit.
“We have selected a single-barrel proof that has been aged 13 years,” Howard said. Visitors could do a tasting with Neil.
Neil retired from the military with executive, operational and combat experience. He has served as a senior advisor to several general officers, senior civilian policy makers, national members of interagency task forces as well as several House and Senate Committee members. He survived numerous exposures to high explosive events that eventually sent him to recover and continue service at the headquarters of Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.
While working at the Green Beret Foundation, Neil developed and began a transition and resiliency program called the Next Ridgeline. It has been featured in a Veteran’s Day tribute by Google and at the national 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Neil continues to work with several Veterans Affairs committees and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, championing issues facing veterans establishing businesses.
Howard said Neil is “super personable.”
Neil signed bottles at the event.