BLACK BEAR DISTILLERY
The Story of IRISH STYLE. Let it be known that although this term cannot be legally protected or trademarked because it contains two common words (trust me, I tried), that we created this concept in 2013 and spent a lot of time and energy getting it approved, which is was by the end of 2014 (specifically TTB tracking ID number 14294001000349 BLACK BEAR IRISH STYLE WHISKEY 141002 12/29/2014 APPROVED). As of 2017, we are the only people in the world to have this term approved. Anyone who uses it in the future has appropriated it from us. Here is why that is a BIG DEAL. First of all, getting it approved by the United States government, specifically the TTB. This is close to impossible because the term Irish must mean FROM IRELAND. We are all American and in fact, all Colorado. But, my family is from Ireland and I truly want to honor that history and culture. I explained how the recipe and techniques are going to be an exact replica of traditional Irish style and eventually, the term was approved. BUT, that was just the beginning. Then the Irish authorities contacted me. Historically there was a lot of illegal use of the term Irish in whiskies that were fake, especially during prohibition, so the Irish Authorities are understandably very careful to protect that term. I respect and understand that. Through several long discussions, I explained that not only did I truly want to honor that tradition and culture, but, I would put America and Colorado all over my labels and website. I think that is obvious. This is an America Product, specifically a Colorado Product, and it is in no way made in or representing the wonderful country of Ireland. It is a fairly exact replication of traditional Irish Whiskey with American Ingredients and an American Still. I love Ireland, I love Irish Whiskey, and this is my homage, my humble honoring of that culture; the culture that created my family for generations before Joseph Benjamin Matthews came to America from Tipperary County. He settled in North Carolina and married Little M, who gave birth to Benjamin Matthews, my grandfather, a golden glove boxer and WWII D-Day Vet. It is that Matthews Family Irish Crest that adorns the label.
THE CREST. For those of you who are either big enough fans to want to know about the crest or perhaps simply genealogy buffs, here is the story. All such crests have histories and all elements have meaning. So, as you can see, the Matthews family crest is black and red with a golden rampant lion. First of all, it should be known that we were never the biggest clan or the most powerful. We did have several very important members, but we were never kings or dukes and served the Kings of Munster with our capital being the Rock of Cashel. Some of the ruling families were the O'Callaghans, MacCarthys, O'Donoghues, and O'Sullivans. Of course, we also eventually fell under the rule of the Fitzgeralds and O'Brians. But the crest tells our story. First of all, the colors red and black are very important. Red is for battle and blood. We were very loyal and hard fighters, but the black is for loss and pain, so we lost some battles and we certainly lost some important leaders. As a sunburst pattern that forms the base of the crest, this happened more than once, and was our unfortunate claim to fame. We were great fighters and warriors, but our bravery was tarnished by loss. To discover how brave these warriors were, one must turn to the lion. A rampant lion is only awarded to the fiercest warriors. It is generally considered the top such award. So, we may not have been Kings or Dukes, but we were brave and legendary warriors. One final detail completes the story of the ancient Matthews clan of Tipperary County, and that is the color of the lion. Gold is a representative color for wealth, but also for kindness and charity. This gold lion means that my family received wealth and riches from their brave deeds, but were very generous with those riches. A great crest to be sure, and one to be proud of. A final note of great irony. In the mid-1800s there was a famous Matthews (in a branch with one "t") that was one of the leaders of the early Temperance movement. That is certainly ironic, and may be the reason my great grandfather left! :-)