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Football great Ray Lewis and his business partner have taken the road less traveled with a playbook like none other. As most sports enthusiasts know, first on the field was their four-year labor of love… Ray’s Reserve. This First Edition, a premiere American adult beverage, was bottled on May 15, 2016. (When offered to the public, it sold out in 5 hours)
Their Second and Final Edition was bottled on December 30, 2017.
“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. 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.”
“Then in 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.”
“As you may know, our team determined that the bourbon was ready! It had rested plenty, as I have, too, from my game days. Today, a new game is about to begin. And alas, we will only produced 100 bottles of Ray’s Reserve…for Year One.”
“First of all, I was blown away after we announced the Release of Year One! It sold out in less than 5 hours!”
“For Year Two, my partner and I worked on an encore. You see, our second barrel was the same Kentucky Bourbon; aged another 14 months. So, you could say…just a little bit smoother.”
“As you know, we have made our own twist to Drink Responsibly! We say ROAR RESPONSIBLY. Why? Well, that is simple for those who know me. I have always loved lion’s. They are the Kings of the Jungle. And I sense they are gentlemen, too. Now, we are ready to ROAR… and our Lion is roaring too. It’s time to release the Second Edition of Ray’s Reserve Kentucky Bourbon! Lions are known to be magnificent creatures: symbols of power, courage, and nobility. Most importantly, Lion’s take care of their families… their pride. When a lion roars, it is loud and ferocious, and he can be heard for miles. However, the lion is only one part of what Ray’s Reserve represents. We are all about inclusivity and people, family, friends, and community.”
If you listened to the words Ray spoke during his 2018 Football Hall of Fame induction speech, you would have heard his wisdom on love and leadership. And if you ponder the challenge that Ray offered to the others on stage, you’ll better understand why Ray believes that now is the time for The Return of the Gentleman.
Ray wants to start a movement… a movement to lead the way. Taking the bull by the horns and always leading from the front, Ray is willing to take well-thought-out risks that might be misconstrued… sailing in uncharted waters but with a single purpose in mind. TO MAKE A CHANGE. A change in attitude. A change in life. A winning change.
“Are you living every day to make this world better?”
“We need people willing to fight for what is good and what is right.”
“Think what we can do if we work together as a country… teaching our nation to love each other again.”
Ray knows it will take hard work… lots of work for all of us. Thus, he has termed the movement, THE RETURN OF THE GENTLEMAN. So, stay tuned. We have only just begun!
As mentioned earlier, the company is ready to begin sales on January 15th, 2019.