Heritage Distilling Announces Coquille Tribe as Newest Tribal Beverage Network Partner

Heritage Distilling Co. of Gig Harbor, Washington, has announced a landmark partnership with the Coquille Indian Tribe to develop Oregon’s inaugural tribally-owned and operated distillery on tribal land. 

Both Heritage and Coquille-branded spirits will be produced, bottled and sold at The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park located on Coos Bay in North Bend, Oregon as well as the casino’s several bars, restaurants and retail outlets. Revenue from the distillery operations will be distributed to the Tribe, which provides its 1,100 members with healthcare, education and services in five Southern Oregon counties. 

Led by Justin and Jennifer Stiefel since 2011, Heritage is the most-awarded craft distillery in North America by the American Distilling Institute for the past decade and is recognized for its innovative brand family of premium whiskies, gins, vodkas, rums and ready-to-drink cocktails. Beyond their mastery of distilling, the Stiefels saw both an injustice done to Native American indigenous communities and a mutually beneficial economic opportunity to create national distribution for Heritage’s portfolio of craft spirits. Together, they established the Tribal Beverage Network (TBN), a first-of-its-kind partnership with Native American Tribes to develop Heritage-branded distilleries, brands and tasting rooms to serve patrons of tribal casinos and entertainment venues. 

“There is a huge economic opportunity to develop a market that has been traditionally closed to the tribal communities,” said Margaret Simpson, chief executive officer of CEDCO, the Tribe’s venture arm that owns and operates The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park. “Working with the Heritage team in expanding Heritage brands and creating new brands that are both in keeping with Oregon’s history as innovators in craft beer and wine, as well as with the values of the Coquille Tribe, will be vital in launching the distillery. Together with Heritage, we will establish the proper foundation to not only fast track our project, but also equip us with the tools to make Oregon’s first tribally-owned distillery an ongoing success and a vital economic resource for our community.” 

Final approval of the project by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) came during the commission’s May 16 session. The historic achievement caps two years of work and negotiations between the OLCC and the Tribe, with the assistance of Heritage, to take one more step towards modernizing Oregon’s liquor laws. 

The distillery will be modeled after Heritage’s industry-leading operations derived from its five distilleries and tasting rooms across Washington and Oregon. As a TBN partner, the Coquille-owned and operated destination will also offer several amenities for patrons including a tasting room that features Heritage spirits like Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey, Heritage Canned Cocktails, Florescence Vodka, Stiefel’s Select Single Barrel and Small Batch whiskeys, and Heritage’s latest Special Operations Salute series which honors military and first responder communities. 

In addition to on-site tastings, the Coquille distillery will also extend innovative membership programs available to TBN partners: The Cask Club®, an annual membership-based program that allows members to create and customize spirits of their choice; and The Spirits Club®, a program that provides members quarterly shipments of Heritage’s award-winning spirits delivered directly to their door at a reduced rate, as well as priority access to new, limited and seasonal releases.

“We are thrilled and honored to be partnering with the Coquille Indian Tribe and CEDCO to break ground on this historic effort in Oregon,” said Jennifer Stiefel, president and co-founder of Heritage Distilling. “As a woman leading in an industry traditionally dominated by men, it’s exciting to collaborate with strong female leadership in Coquille Chairwoman Brenda Meade and CEDCO CEO Margaret Simpson. The Mill is the perfect location for Heritage to expand its offerings given its draw along the Oregon coast and its history as the timber capital of the world. Aging premium whiskeys and rums requires time-honored methods and maturation. It’s fitting that this site, once home to a timber mill, will now craft high-quality spirits aged in wood for consumers to enjoy. Heritage Distilling is proud to play a part in the Coquille Tribe’s special story.” 

TBN members can benefit from wholesale and retail margins and tax capture. In addition, tribes entering this industry can generate funds to support social and economic initiatives, increase employment, diversify the skillsets of their members and work with Heritage to create their brands to celebrate the unique characteristics of a tribe or region.

The Coquille Tribe’s announcement follows on the heels of a recent announcement by the Tonto Apache Tribe in Payson, Arizona on its plans to open a Heritage Distilling branded location in partnership with Heritage at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino’s newest development, Apache Corners. Until recently, an 1834 federal law prohibited anyone from setting up a distillery on tribal land for manufacturing “ardent spirits.” In large part due to Heritage Distilling Company’s efforts, the antiquated Andrew Jackson-era law was finally repealed by Congress in 2018, paving the way for the Coquille Indian Tribe to pursue operation of a distillery on tribal lands. 

Heritage has several other tribes signed up under its model with announcements for each location and tribal partnership to be unveiled based on each tribe’s respective timeline for development. For more information on Heritage Distilling Company and the Tribal Beverage Network, visit heritagedistilling.com.

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