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Football great Ray Lewis and his business partner have taken the road less traveled with a playbook like none other. First on the field is a four-year labor of love… Ray’s Reserve – a premiere American adult beverage bottled on May 15, 2016.
Sales start February 15th 2017! Bottles are $250 each and come with Certificate of Authenticity. No. 001 will be $10,000 and No. 052 will be $25,000. All profits go to It’s My Time to Shine – supporting women through education.
A leader always focused on winning, Ray is relaxed and at peace during a recent interview and, purely humbled by his journey. Let’s listen in:
“Our 2011 season ended on January 22nd in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Losing the Conference Championship to the New England Patriots was tough… really tough. We had fought hard all season long. Our record was impressive, but we failed to convert. I was honored to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl again. Likewise, my good friend T-Sizzle was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And man, I was happy for him. Losing stinks, though I knew that living this dream of playing in the NFL would be ending soon. So I started some deep soul searching. What did I want to do with the rest of my life? My family had always come first, and they always will. Trusting in the Lord, I turned and asked him for guidance.
That off season was a turning pointing for me. The game of football had been great: from Pop Warner to high school, and then to the “U” and the privilege of playing my entire career in Baltimore. I had achieved the American dream. After earning my college degree, I had an inkling that I would need to prepare for the day when I would hang up my pads. Motivating kids (and adults) had always been a passion. And I wanted to demonstrate my complete understanding and technical knowledge of the game, and merge that with new business ideas. But first, I had to prepare for ONE MORE SEASON. To come so close and come up so short was not the way I wanted the script to read.
During the spring of 2012, Monte (my good friend and personal trainer) and I began our preps. We would start early each day – pushing harder than ever before. Focused on preparing for the upcoming battle of another NFL season, we understood our mission. Win the Super Bowl. It was during these grueling workouts that I envisioned growing an idea into a winning business.
During one particular morning run, I obsessed over starting a small, craft spirits distillery right here in Baltimore, Maryland. If done right, we could produce exceptional products – and have fun at the same time. And so the idea of our first product was born – a very special bourbon meant to be both sipped and enjoyed. Just buy one barrel, and it would be easy. Boy, were we in for a surprise!
The 2012 season began, and I knew that I could not be distracted. So I partnered with a good friend who had business acumen and a drive equal only to mine. The plan was just one barrel… simply aged in a Kentucky distillery.
Our precious barrel sat amongst countless others while we worked late into many nights to develop a winning game plan. It had to be different – a bourbon with a complex, smooth finish… one of distinction with, perhaps, a touch of vanilla and caramel, too. We flew to Kentucky every three months and waited for our distiller to draw a sample. We tasted. And each time, we were less than satisfied.
It had to be smoother. It had to be better. It had to be unique.
Then last December (2015), something magical happened. The burnt char taste was gone! The bourbon had gained the bouquet, body, and flavors that would make it a gold medal beverage of choice. We knew we had finally scored a winner… a BIG winner.
We celebrated. We huddled. And we waited. Again. For it wasn’t yet time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Anything of tremendous quality takes precious time. So that’s what we did. We gave it more time. I let my bourbon rest on the oak for another four months.
On with the business of label creation, approval, and printing… special bottles ordered, manufactured, and shipped to Kentucky.
Now the bourbon is ready! It’s rested plenty, as I have, too, from my game days. Today, a new game is about to begin. And alas, we will only produce 100 bottles of Ray’s Reserve… this year.
As always, please remember to Roar Responsibly.
Sales start February 15th 2017 and will be available for pick-up soon after – check back for details. Bottles are $250 each and come with Certificate of Authenticity. No. 001 will be $10,000 and No. 052 will be $25,000. All profits go to It’s My Time to Shine – supporting women through education.