Switchgrass Spirits teams up with 8 St. Louis breweries to create Common Bond whiskey as COVID-19 fundraiser

Switchgrass Spirits has joined forces with eight local breweries to create Common Bond Single Malt whiskey, which will be finished next summer, in hopes of raising nearly $100,000 for the local hospitality industry amid the coronavirus crisis. 

“I think the name speaks for itself,” said Sarah Miller, a founding member of Switchgrass Spirits. “If we all can come together to share a common bond and work toward a common goal by chipping in just a little bit, we can help each other make it through this difficult time.”

With each pre-purchase of a $45 bottle (buyers receive a bond certificate upon purchase), $15 goes to the brewery that sold it and $15 will be donated to the Gateway Resilience Fund, which provides financial aid to service industry workers, while the remaining $15 goes to the distillery for production costs. The fundraiser garnered over $7,000 for the Gateway Resilience Fund within the first three days, with over 460 bottles sold in that time.

“It’s a 3,000-bottle run, so if all those bottles sell, and $30 of it I consider going to help other people, that’s $90,000 we're hoping to raise,” Miller said.

Inspired by the concept of war bonds, the limited edition Common Bond whiskey will be aged for one year in Missouri oak barrels. The bond certificates can be redeemed in June 2021. 

 “It’s a fun throwback to war bonds,” said Kristina Goodwin, an operator at Earthbound Beer, one of the participating breweries. “We all have a sense that we are living through a moment of historical significance. It doesn’t feel like you're just buying a bottle of whiskey. You're buying a bottle of whiskey and it’s part of a group effort to help these businesses in a time of need, and I think that’s really cool.”

Miller said the team at Switchgrass considered the difficulties of shutting down a brewery when they were conceptualizing the project.

“For a distillery, hibernating is a lot easier than for a brewery because our product doesn’t go bad like beer does,” she said. “We used a Pilsner malt that’s not always associated with distilling – more so with brewing to sort of tie it all in.”

Common Bond is also helping local grain producers get some extra business.

“We are buying our grain from the same people that the breweries would normally be buying their grain and malt from,” Miller said. “COVID-19 has really disrupted the supply chain, so we’re helping out the manufacturers and letting the breweries’ customers have an easy way to support and engage with them at a time where it’s difficult for a lot of breweries to be selling alcohol the way they normally would be. It also gives customers something to look forward to. It’s the idea of a product that you wait for and, having anticipation, I think it signifies the hope that we need right now.”

Common Bond is available for preorder through each of the participating breweries: Ferguson Brewing Co., Earthbound BeerUrban Chestnut Brewing Co.Civil Life Brewing Co.Perennial Artisan Ales, Heavy Riff Brewing Co.Center Ice Brewery and Wellspent Brewing Co.