With Covid-19 raging across the country throughout most of 2020, all of us at Garrison Brothers felt that it was time for us to do our part in helping to fight the pandemic. After all, as we always say, good bourbon can change the world.
Ironically enough, however, our first step was to actually cut back on our bourbon production, and instead we’d allocate a portion of our time and product to producing hand sanitizer. Using the formula the WHO provided, we got to work making buckets and buckets of our “Wash Your Damn Hands” hand sanitizer. Most of it went to local hospitals and police departments, and I was honored to personally drop some off the people who needed it.
We also produced smaller bottles that were sent out to our friends who owned restaurants, making sure they could stay safe while preparing to-go meals for anyone who stopped by. We produced over 12,000 gallons and gave it all away, free of charge.
But that was just the beginning.
Making sanitizer was a great way for us to help, but there were other groups who were more suited to help out than we were. So, to see what else we could do, we reached out to our friends at Team Rubicon. We’ve partnered with them several times in the past, like for our work on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts back in 2017. For COVID-19, they were out there on the front lines, setting up testing stations and providing medical care all across the country. They were fighting the good fight as best they could, and any extra resources we could provide them would be a huge help.
Well, we might not have had much in the way of medical supplies on hand, but we did have something else up our sleeves: plenty of world-class bourbon.
Right before the pandemic really hit in force, we’d been gearing up to unveil what might be the most incredible bourbon we have ever made: Laguna Madre. It’s the oldest bourbon we’ve ever produced, aged 8 long years in the Texas heat, including a 4-year finish in French Limousin Oak barrels, which are legendary for their vanillin content. The result was the ultimate ambrosia of sugars, heat, and vanilla that tasted like the true Nectar Of The Gods. We only had a limited number of bottles available, and we’d been gearing up for a huge release at the distillery, with music, food, the works. Of course, when the pandemic hit, there was no way in hell we could do a release that way.
But we still had a ton of people who wanted Laguna Madre, and we wanted to be able to give it to them. So, all of us put our heads together, and came up with a little fundraiser we called “Operation Crush COVID-19.”
Operation Crush COVID-19 gave everyone in our community the opportunity to extend a hand and help out those in need, and get some amazing bourbon as a gift in return for it. We set up a donation page where folks could donate to our public charity, Good Bourbon For A Good Cause. In return, they’d receive one of several gifts, ranging from merchandise from our gift shop to a bottle of this year’s edition of our HoneyDew bourbon. However, for those who took the ultimate step and donated a whopping $1000 to the relief effort, they were guaranteed a bottle of Laguna Madre once we were finally safe enough to release it.
We raised nearly $400,000 in just a few weeks, purely on the kindness and devotion of those around us. And in mid-August, we were able to open our gates and give out Laguna Madre to all those who had lent a helping hand when we needed it most.
The lion’s share of what we raised went to Team Rubicon, who assisted thousands of people with getting what they needed to make it through the pandemic.
But, we also took a portion of that money and created a series of $1000 grants that were sent out to bartenders across Texas. These were all world-class mixologists, as well as just some of the nicest people you’d ever hope to meet. We’d worked with them all in the past, and many of them were originally scheduled to be a part of our Bourbon Brawl. But once COVID-19 hit, most found themselves without a job, and some were left wondering where their next rent payment would come from. So an extra grant, for some of our friends out in the bar and restaurant world, could make all the difference.
As Americans grew more and more nervous about the long-term implications of the pandemic, donations slowly became more infrequent. Folks were tapped out and struggling to keep their families safe, so we concluded that phase of the operation.
We always say that “Good Bourbon can change the world.” The question is…what can it do when the world around us is already changing faster than ever before?
For some, like the members of our team and our friends in the restaurant world, it can provide a bit of stability in a very unstable time.
For others, like our friends at Team Rubicon, it can provide an extra bit of support as they continue to fight the good fight.
And finally, for everyone who donated to Operation Crush COVID-19, it gave them a chance to not only help out those who needed it, but to also have a bottle of the Nectar Of The Gods that they can enjoy with the ones they love as we all start spending time together again.
You hear a lot of talk now about “the new normal”. Even with vaccines being handed out right now, from the way we see it, we’ve still got a long way to go before we can start calling anything “normal” again. But if we continue to support those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, look out for each other, and enjoy some good bourbon along the way, we think we’re headed in the right direction to Crush COVID-19.