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Horse Soldier Bourbon honored with citations from KY General Assembly

(Left-Right) John Koko, Scott Neil and Robert Stivers

SOMERSET, Ky. — The Kentucky House and Senate issued citations during regular session Jan. 20 to Horse Soldier Bourbon founders John Koko and Scott Neil, honoring their military service after 9/11 and their commitment to build a $200-million distillery experience in Somerset-Pulaski County.

The citations offer Koko and Neil the General Assembly’s “sincere commendation and gratitude for both the sacrifices they have made in the interest of their fellow Americans and for their role in this vital new partnership.”

The Horse Soldier Bourbon team officially broke ground for its 225-acre distillery experience, Horse Soldier Farms, on Oct. 19, 2021 — the 20th anniversary of the day their hand-selected detachment of 12 Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group entered Afghanistan on horseback. Later named the “Horse Soldiers,” their clandestine mission marked the first time U.S. troops rode to war on horseback since World War II. The movie 12 Strong is based on their story.

Upon retiring from the military, the Horse Soldier team traveled the world and discovered a passion for making bourbon. They founded their ultra-premium, award-winning brand and determined their legacy would be to build a distillery in Kentucky. Working closely with Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) President and CEO Chris Girdler and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck — who was also present for the citations — Horse Soldier chose Somerset as the location of their distillery in 2019 and have designed a distillery experience that weaves together their love of country and craft.

In addition to honoring Koko and Neil for their selection of a community in his district, State Sen. Rick Girdler recognized SPEDA for its work in changing the economic development landscape in Somerset-Pulaski County.

Horse Soldier Farms will bring 400-plus jobs to Somerset-Pulaski County. In addition to a sustainable distillery inspired by the Horse Soldiers, the grounds include a village that offers both spirits- and non-spirits-based activities. Events, festivals and concerts will fill the family-friendly venue’s schedule while shops, community rooms, a chapel and event center, and health and wellness opportunities will be available to residents, visitors and veterans. Horse Soldier Farms will also include a luxury lodge, cabins and serve as a premier culinary destination.

Koko expressed gratitude to House and Senate members for their thoughtful recognition of his company and his brothers-in-arms.

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