As COO (Chief Operating Officer) for Horse Soldier Bourbon, Scott Neil spoke with the Commonwealth Journal before the ceremony Tuesday, explaining some of what they hope to offer visitors with Horse Soldier Farms.
"We're so happy to be in Somerset again," said Neil. "... The amount of effort the community has given us to help support this set-up has been tremendous, so to say I'm excited in an understatement."
Neil acknowledged that the challenges presented by COVID-19 affected the timetable with which development on Horse Soldier Farms could progress — for one thing, architects weren't able to get over here from England, he noted — but said construction could start in a couple of months, as things are currently moving behind the scenes. It will take about six months to lay the infrastructure for the more than 46 buildings on the grounds, including roadways, electrical power and more.
"I think when we first dreamed our little dream, we didn't realize how big we wanted it," said Neil. "It started with just considering a production facility, and then it turned into more of a family farm aspect. So we'll have horses, a hotel, cabins. If you look around here ... you would see cattle, you would see corn, you would see soy. So this is going to fit perfectly in the rural community here."
Neil said adding an all-around family agritourism dimension to this Bourbon Trail stop — he also mentioned an "adventure center," with horseback riding, archery, a ropes course, and more, as well three greenhouses, and an exceptional restaurant experience — will help compliment Lake Cumberland in adding to the area's tourism numbers.
As far as the actual bourbon, Neil wants to build a warehouse and bottling plant and to get production going, ideally in about 36 months — over 13,000 barrels are currently aging in Ohio, and Neil wants to bring them here.
Financing is "the final trickiest wicket," said Neil, and his group has to weigh heavily the factor of how much of the company they want to give away to investors. All the money put into the project so far as been Horse Soldier's own.
"We didn't come this far to go this far," said Neil. "Initially we started with $5 million. That's a lot for a lot of vets. ... Funding is not the issue. It's how much of our American dream do we keep."
While it's certainly less dangerous, the logistics of getting into Afghanistan presented similar challenges in certain ways to what they're doing now in Pulaski County.
"We started in just two tents and then after that, we left and went into Afghanistan on horseback and we built what we needed to survive over the next six months," said Neil. "So I see the same thing here. There's nothing. There's a blank canvas."