By Stephen Smoot
One could say that the teaming up of Upper Tract’s Swilled Dog and the West Virginia Mountaineers sounds more like a wedding than a partnership.
Fans get something old (West Virginia University’s traditions of sports excellence), something new (a first release of incredibly good bourbon), and though nothing gets borrowed, all involved get to bask in the fun of following and supporting the Old Gold and Blue.
In 2021 new rules from the NCAA, along with a bill passed by the West Virginia State Legislature, allows student athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses. According to the West Virginia University website, this can happen in conjunction with “activities related to student-athlete business activities” or also “promotion/endorsement of products and services.”
The players also must ensure that “these name, image, and likeness opportunities may occur in a manner that is consistent with the core values, mission, and principles of West Virginia University.”
As Brooke Glover, owner of Swilled Dog, explained, “It connects us with people who really follow Mountaineer sports and it helps us with brand recognition.”
Swilled Dog inked the agreement with Country Roads Trust, which has emerged as the leader in facilitating partnerships that link WVU athletes to NIL opportunities. Swilled Dog created a special limited edition bourbon as part of the deal. Called “1863 WV Gold,” it pays homage to both the Mountaineer program and the state as a whole.
Glover shared that “people are having a lot of fun with it.” An initial offering “sold out in two hours.”
To keep interest high, Swilled Dog made only 1,260 bottles of 1863 WV Gold. The straight bourbon whiskey was “aged for 4.5 years using tight grained American white oak.”
Glover added that “we feel like this is West Virginia’s bourbon. We want people to be proud of it. The quality is there. You’re getting a really great quality beverage.”
She also explained that the local corn grown around Upper Tract has “really amazing properties due to the rainfall.” Additionally, most of the groundwater under Pendleton County comes from limestone caverns similar to that which produces the famous Kentucky Limestone Water used by the western part of that state’s famous distillers.
The deal with Country Roads Trust isn’t the only big news that Swilled Dog has generated lately. “We’re winning big international awards,” Glover stated.
Stephen Ford of Country Roads Trust, shared that “Swilled Dog has produced a top-shelf bourbon with the passion and hard work for which Mountaineer fans are known.”
Funds generated from the sales will go to support efforts to provide marketing opportunities for Mountaineer athletes.