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First Tribal-Owned Distillery Established On Native Land In Oregon

In a huge leap forward for Native American tribal distillers, Heritage Distilling Company and the Coquille Indian Tribe have announced the establishment of a distillery at The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park. The distillery is the first to be established on Native American tribal lands in Oregon. 

“Modernizing Oregon’s Liquor Laws”

The partnership between Heritage Distilling Company and the Coquille Indian Tribe is the culmination of the overturning of a 188 year old Federal law that banned Native American tribes from distilling spirits on tribal lands. The effort was helped by Heritage Distilling Company co-founder and CEO, Justin Stiefel, alongside the tribal communities in Oregon. 

After tireless campaigning, Stiefel succeeded in helping to overturn the law and established the Tribal Beverage Network (TBN). The TBN is “a first-of-its-kind partnership with Native American Tribes to develop Heritage-branded distilleries, brands and tasting rooms to serve patrons of tribal casinos and entertainment venues.” The new Coquille distillery will bring about economic growth and open up a completely new kind of market for the tribes, one that has previously been sealed off. 

Final approval for the distillery was given on May 16th, 2024 by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC). 

Margaret Simpson, CEO of CEDCO (the tribe’s venture arm, owner and operator of the mill and RV park) said: “Working with the Heritage team in expanding Heritage brands and creating new brands that are both in keeping with Oregon’s history as innovators in craft beer and wine, as well as with the values of the Coquille Tribe, will be vital in launching the distillery. Together with Heritage, we will establish the proper foundation to not only fast track our project, but also equip us with the tools to make Oregon’s first tribally-owned distillery an ongoing success and a vital economic resource for our community.” 

Heritage Distilling Company is also working with numerous other tribes across Oregon. For more information on the TBN and these developments, click here

The Coquille Distillery

Heritage Distilling Company is a craft distiller and producer of brands such as Cocoa Bomb Chocolate Whiskey and HDC Dual Barrel Collection, with five active distilleries across Washington and Oregon. Drawing on its expertise, the company will support the Coquille Indian Tribe in establishing and running the distillery. The new distillery will, as a part of the TBN, offer tours and tasting experiences including HDC’s other brands. 

In addition to this, the Coquille distillery will establish a membership program exclusively for TBN partners. The program, named The Cask Club, will be an annual membership program that allows members the chance to bottle customized spirits. The Spirit Club, by extension, will offer members exclusive access to seasonal and limited edition Heritage spirits at a reduced price. 

Jennifer Stiefel, president and co-founder of Heritage Distilling Company, said: “We are thrilled and honored to be partnering with the Coquille Indian Tribe and CEDCO to break ground on this historic effort in Oregon. As a woman leading in an industry traditionally dominated by men, it’s exciting to collaborate with strong female leadership in Coquille Chairwoman Brenda Meade and CEDCO CEO Margaret Simpson. The Mill is the perfect location for Heritage to expand its offerings given its draw along the Oregon coast and its history as the timber capital of the world. Aging premium whiskeys and rums requires time-honored methods and maturation. It’s fitting that this site, once home to a timber mill, will now craft high-quality spirits aged in wood for consumers to enjoy. Heritage Distilling is proud to play a part in the Coquille Tribe’s special story.” 

About The Coquille Indian Tribe 

Members of the Coquille Tribe maintain sustainable forests on their land.

The Coquille Indian tribe of Native Americans has lived in the southwest region of Oregon for thousands of years, maintaining 750,000 acres of land. 

In 1954, US Congress declared the Coquille Tribe “terminated”, and much of the land was seized. In 1989, the tribe was restored to federal recognition. 

Today, there are 1,100 members in the tribe, and around 10,000 acres of their ancestral land has been reclaimed. The tribe now manages the sustainable forest. 

The tribe is heavily community-focused and provides education, healthcare, and housing assistance for its members. Economic growth for the local area is also a focus, with the new Coquille Distillery expected to contribute substantially to the local area. 

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Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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