Ending a Feud With a Bottle: The Legendary Hatfield and McCoy Family Brand Whiskey

© Hatfield & McCoy

The legend of the Hatfields and McCoys is embedded in American culture. “Their names are synonymous with unrelenting rivalry. Their story has been told and re-told by local townsfolk and movie stars alike,” says Monsell Darville, CEO, The Legendary Hatfield and McCoy Family Brand. The legend of the two families has become something of an American folktale even though it did actually happen and it definitely wasn’t pleasant.

It’s a story of family, love, anger and vengeance. “By the official end of the feud, twelve family members were dead, seven were spending a life sentence in jail, and one other had been sentenced to be hanged.” It was certainly one of the bloodiest, famous family feuds in American history.

Ask a random person in 2015 if they’ve heard of the families and it’s very likely that they have. If, for some reason, you don’t know about this famous feud, their have been many books written about it as well as a three-part History Channel Miniseries called Hatfields & McCoys starring Kevin Costner as “Devil” Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton as “Ole Ran’l” McCoy. The miniseries, which aired in 2012, tells the whole story of the feud from start to finish.

In the last 150 years, the families have tried to make amends. But, it’s kind of difficult to completely forget the blood that was spilled all those years ago. That’s why it’s such a big deal that the two families have decided to come together to create this partnership. Big Jim McCoy (descendant of Randall McCoy) and John T. Hatfield (descendant of “Devil” Anse Hatfield) decided that the time was right to create a bond between the two families. That’s why they used historical family recipes and their iconic names to make the Legendary Hatfield and McCoy Family Brand Whiskey. The two families still live in the same area (on the mountain-filled border of Kentucky and West Virginia) where all the bloodshed and turmoil went down more than a century ago.

The Hatfield and McCoy Feud

The notorious family feud began back in 1865 when Asa Harmon McCoy, the brother of Ole Ran’l was murdered by the Logan County Wildcats. The Logan County Wildcats were a militia and “Devil” Anse Hatfield was one of their more notable and outspoken membes. Even though Hatfield wasn’t there when the actual attack took place, it was assumed by the McCoys that he was the ringleader. They blamed the murder on him and thus became many years of feuding between the Hatfields and McCoys. In 1878, Ole Ran’l accused Floyd Hatfield (Devil Anse’ cousin) of stealing one of his pigs. This set off more feuding and fighting and led to the family’s meeting in court. The McCoy’s didn’t believe they got a proper trial as the judge was another cousin of Devil Anse.

The feud really escalated in 1882. This is when the bloodshed began. Three McCoy brothers murdered of the Hatfields. They were captured by Devil Anse and executed. There was no going back from this bloody choice. This went from a simple feud into a full-on war between two families.

A Whiskey Based Made From American Folklore

© Hatfield & McCoy

The Hatfields and McCoys had been blending and distilling traditional American spirits, such as moonshine and whiskey well before the feuding even erupted. “In fact, members of the two clans wrote down recipes on the back pages of family Bibles or stored them in Mason jars. But until last year, those recipes never met,” says Darville.

The whiskey itself is not remotely as complex or tumultuous as the history of the Hatfields and McCoys. It is made from a blend of corn, malts, barley, proprietary yeast, pure, clean water and is infused with natural flavors. After distillation, it’s filtered and purified to a create a mature-tasting, unique whisky that’s aged in American Oak casks. When it comes out, it’s a smooth, sweet 80-proof whiskey that’s ready to be bottled and sent to a store near you.

This American Whiskey rooted in old family recipes, pride of name, and Appalachian tradition, is available in an attractive 750 ml bottle with a suggested retail price of $37.99. It was launched last year and is currently available in stores, restaurants and bars in 42 states. The proprietary, top-quality whiskey is something that every workingman can afford and be proud to drink.

The drink boasts the following tasting notes:

  • Nose: Hints Of Green Grass, Light Vanilla, Wet Stone, Complex and Balanced.
  • Taste: Medium Body, Light Black Pepper, Smoke, Layers Of Dried Apricot, Custard and Black Walnut.
  • Finish: Balanced, Clean, Hints Of Vanilla, Caramel And Butter.

This brings us to one important question: How did the families put the feud behind them to create this unique whiskey? “The present generation of the Hatfields and McCoys, who live along the borders of West Virginia and Kentucky, were the ones who decided to partner on this American Whiskey rooted in old family recipes, pride of name, and Appalachian tradition,” says Darville. “The families agree that this whiskey is the first authentic product that is truly worthy of the Hatfield & McCoy names.” On the bottle label, two pistols flank a scroll with the words, Honor Vengeance Justice. “In the near future, the families may also join forces on other branded products, including bourbon.”

The whiskey is made at Local Choice, an award-winning distiller, based out of Charleston, South Carolina using precise specifications and ingredients as outlined in the family recipe. “Local Choice then bottles and ships the liquid to distributors,” says Darville.

It wasn’t easy for the Hatfields and McCoys to look past 150 years of tumultuous history and bring together the two family names as one. “In fact, it took them a lot of soul searching to understand that by coming together, they would be creating a legacy, something that their future generations would be proud of.”