FORMER RUTGERS FOOTBALL PLAYER TURNED ENTREPRENEUR, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, AUTHOR, AND PHILANTHROPIST, ERIC LEGRAND DEBUTS HIS LATEST VENTURE: AN ARTISAN-MADE, FINE SIPPING WHISKEY WITH ALL-STAR SWAGGER
BY EVAN MONROE
Eric LeGrand is part of a hallowed American tradition of transforming unfathomable hardship into incredible success. His story in the public consciousness began in 2010 as a defensive tackle playing for Rutgers University. Then, on October 16, 2010, LeGrand was the subject of a tragedy so acute that all of America bore witness to it. While making a tackle in a game against the Army Black Knights, LeGrand suffered an injury to his spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Despite sustaining such a life-changing impairment, LeGrand never let the moment keep him from his dreams. In addition to becoming a top motivational speaker and advocate for the differently abled, he has inaugurated a number of highly pro table businesses, including his premiere spirit, LeGrand Whiskey. Launched in 2021 in a partnership with Brian Axelrod (whose resume includes ne spirits like Beam, D’Usse, and Conor McGregor’s Irish whiskey, Proper No. Twelve), LeGrand Whiskey is made from an artisanal blend of corn, rye, malted barley, and limestone-purified water. It is sold to the public only after being aged for 24 months in American oak barrels. ¬ is small-batch bourbon whiskey, like many critically lauded whiskeys on the market, operates several steps throughout its creation in Kentucky. It is distilled in Owensboro, bottled in Bardstown, and aged in those aforementioned oak barrels in Kentucky
Asked by TMZ why he decided to launch this spirit in a crowded field, LeGrand remarked that his goal was not only to provide the public with one of the finest whiskeys available, but he also wanted to dispel any unfair and often ridiculous notions about people who suffer paralysis: “I wanted to create a brand of something that represents me, and I feel like whiskey is the perfect thing that represents me,” he said. “It takes patience. It is something that’s tough, and something that you celebrate life to…A lot of times people see someone in a wheelchair with a disability, and they think they can’t enjoy alcohol and other things, and I’m like that’s totally not true. I wanted to end that stigma.”
LeGrand has said that the entire process not only the constituent steps, but the precise, patient nature of their application and the trust required between all those involved in the liquor’s creation is a reflection of his own struggle after his injury.
As for the spirit itself, reviewers have marveled at its warm nose and smooth, crisp finish. Christopher Null, in his positive review on Drink hacker, perhaps described it best:
“¬The nose evokes coconut husks, torched brown sugar, and some barrel char, tempering the sweetness and giving the wood a little more room to shine. It never smells young, but rather comes across as fairly well balanced, a lightly ashy quality lingering in the glass…It’s solid stuff, defying expectations of what has become a fairly well-worn category.”