Team Whiskey unifying families, community in Tahoe Basin
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Fitting seamlessly into the Lake Tahoe lifestyle of avid outdoor recreation, Team Whiskey is a lifestyle brand that is passionate about connecting the community through multiple avenues.
What began as a passion project in an effort to unify during a family crisis, Team Whiskey is a brand for outdoor and whiskey enthusiasts, connecting community members together through the multiple channels of their business.
“The name Team Whiskey began on a trip up to Wrights Lake back in 2017, it was cold and miserable, and we consumed far too much whiskey on our hunting trip,” Kevin Stang, founder and co-owner of Team Whiskey said. “Jokingly, we started calling ourselves Team Whiskey, and the name stuck in our inner circle.”
A year after the hunting trip where the Team Whiskey name began, in 2018, Stang’s late wife was diagnosed with Stage 3c metastatic ovarian cancer.
“We were in the hospital for 31 days and we never left her side,” Stang said. “We all started wearing Team Whiskey shirts to support her, and we started noticing everyone at the hospital on the oncology floor just responded to and referred to us as Team Whiskey. Nurses would check in asking, ‘how’s Team Whiskey doing today?’ So the name really unified us during a time when we needed it.”
Stang’s late wife unfortunately passed, however she encouraged her husband and his close friend to pursue creating Team Whiskey into a business. Kevin, his son Justin Stang, and his good friend and business partner, Ken Burrows, fulfilled her request, and pursued Team Whiskey as an official business.
Inspired to carry on his wife’s legacy, Team Whiskey quickly exploded into a brand, and at first, solely offered apparel, however they rapidly expanded.
“Immediately when we started with apparel, we were getting comments from our customers that we need to get our logo on a bottle of whiskey,” Kevin said. “After we heard that enough times, we went through a trademarking process and partnered with Ken. Myself, my son, and Ken went out on the Bourbon Trail, did our research, and every time we would taste the bourbon, we’d look up the mash build and figured out what we liked and didn’t like. We bought the barrels, and bottled our first batch two months ago in February.”
Team Whiskey’s whiskey is distilled in Indiana by one of the major distillers that distills other major whiskey and bourbon brands in America. However, their whiskey stands out in comparison to other brands, due to their unique mash build.
“Our mash build we found is 21% rye, 75% corn and the rest malt and barley,” Kevin said. “What we did do that’s different from most people is we did a non-chill filter, we kept our proof above 93, which allowed for us to keep the fresh from the barrel flavor in the whiskey.”
Team Whiskey opted against using a chill filter when distilling their whiskey to keep the whiskey’s true integrity and flavor. The brand’s whiskey also doesn’t use any additional colors or additives in their whiskey, keeping their flavor profile unique and pure. After being distilled in Indiana, the whiskey is then proofed down with water directly from the Sierra Nevada region.
“We work and collaborate with people who see our vision of what we want to do with our whiskey, and because of that, the flavor really stands out,” Kevin said. “We get amazing feedback from our customers, and with the other elements of Team Whiskey, it really is “The Sportsmen’s Whiskey.””
Along with apparel and alcohol, the team is also passionate about giving back. With the brand being born on a hunting trip, Team Whiskey also hosts interactive 3D archery shoots. At these events, the business invites local vendors and sponsors to donate products, where they would then host a raffle. In turn, all the proceeds from the raffle would then be donated to an organization to help aid those families and individuals needing assistance that were battling cancer.
“We really started to branch out and our mission was to start donating to cancer organizations that actually gave people money for their bills,” Stang said. “We started out with donating to Moms on the Run in Reno because they helped us out when we needed it, and then we started doing 3D archery shoots, and established a connection with the Give Hope Foundation.”
Connecting the passion for hunting, a 3D archery shoot is where a group of six gets a “lift time,” similar to a golf time, then take the chairlift up and choose your course. At the top of the ski runs, a group can choose a green, blue, or black course, depending on your difficulty level, and each course has different difficulties and challenges of shots and walking. The 3D targets are foam targets that are depicted as animals, ranging from small animals like a raccoon up to a seven foot sasquatch.
Shortly after beginning hosting 3D archery shoot events, Team Whiskey was driven to stay rooted in giving back to those needing assistance while sick. Finding a proactive solution, the team pivoted, creating their own cancer foundation to help those in need.
“As we would travel to different areas doing events, we noticed there weren’t a lot of groups that actually gave back to the people to donate in any given area, because we like to leave the money in the area that we host events, so that’s when we started our Team Whiskey Cancer Foundation in honor of my deceased wife,” Kevin said.
The Team Whiskey Cancer Foundation helps families and individuals that are battling cancer pay specific bills, such as a mortgage, car payment, or electric bill, and pay it in full.
“We don’t send the money to the family, we just get the bill and proactively pay it for them, to ease their mind and so they know their bill is paid,” Kevin said.
With the two 3D archery shoot events that Team Whiskey hosted last year at Homewood Resort and Bear Valley Resort, they raised over $27,000 to donate to cancer organizations. This summer, Team Whiskey is planning to host another 3D archery shoot event June 10 and 11 at Heavenly Ski Resort, the High Sierra Archery Shoot. The event will take place at Heavenly’s California Lodge, with event sponsors, vendors, live music, and food and drink available at the base of the event, and up the chairlift is where there will be three different courses to choose from, along with a $500 cash prize up for the winning team.
“We’re excited the event will be at Heavenly this year,” Kevin said. “I believe people and the community get behind these events because they truly help people pay their bills. Having these people have fun on the course and enjoy this amazing terrain is a once in a lifetime experience that we’re grateful to host and have the community enjoy.”
Looking forward, Team Whiskey is eager to continue growing in the local region and beyond and continue to help families during difficult times.
For more information on Team Whiskey, to see upcoming events, find more information on the upcoming High Sierra Archery Shoot at Heavenly Resort, visit their online store, and get in touch, visit https://www.team-whiskey.com/
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