Damian Garcia is Union Horse’s Director of Marketing & Sales. He’s also one of the co-founders of Union Horse Distilling Company. We took some time this month to learn a little more about Damian’s background and what it means to be a part of Union Horse history.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your background. When did you first get involved in the industry? What was it that made you want to work in the whiskey industry?
Damian: I got involved in the industry back in 1999, when I worked for a local food and beverage broker selling to bars and restaurants all over Kansas City. Over my 13 years with the company, I met a lot of restauranteurs and staff and gained a ton of insight on how to run a successful business both in the back and front of the house.
Around 2009, the family began discussing a potential business to start. Initially, we considered starting a brewery. My brother Patrick (Union Horse’s Master Distiller) had worked at a local brewery while he was in college and for a short time after he graduated. He had an itch about getting back into that industry somehow, as well as implementing some of my knowledge from the beverage side. We toured some local and out-of-state breweries to gain more insight, but the light bulb went off for us when we toured a small-batch, craft distillery on one of our family trips. We discovered that the processes of making a whiskey and beer were very similar, plus, since prohibition and at the time, there were no other craft whiskey producers or distilleries in the Kansas City area.
So, in 2009, my three siblings and I (Patrick Garcia, Master Distiller; Eric Garcia, General Manager; and Mary Garcia Gallagher, Events Director) decided to dive headfirst into researching on what it would take to make a distillery happen. The beginning stages of Union Horse was born!
Q: Why did you choose the name Union Horse?
Damian: Over the years, we’ve joked that the easy part was deciding to come together and start this business, while the hard part was choosing our company name, logo and figuring out the different recipes, names, and labels for each of our spirits.
We chose the name Union Horse because we wanted something that symbolized who we are and what we do. Union is the backbone of our team and our process. It’s the collective energy that flows from both Kansas and Missouri that creatively powers our hometown of Kansas City. It’s in the process of our spirits, combining the best locally sourced ingredients. We utilized the horse as our mascot, not only due to the fact that our family has a horse farm in Butler, MO, but it's also a symbol that’s associated with strength, courage, and freedom. Union Horse truly captures the unified spirit it takes to run a homegrown family business.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working for Union Horse?
Damian: My favorite thing about working at the distillery is working around the family and the people that we have employed over the years. Besides the family, we have some really great folks that truly believe in the brand and what we're producing. We all feel strongly that our whiskey stacks up with the some of the best whiskey makers around the country, and the world, so we continue to spread that brand awareness and getting whiskey to lips day in and day out.
Q: Do you have a favorite whiskey that the team has made? What's your favorite way to drink/enjoy them?
Damian: It’s a toss up between our newest release Rivalist American Single Malt or our Reunion Straight Rye Whiskey. I usually drink both of them neat – this is the way I’ve always drank whiskey. If I do enjoy a cocktail, I’m usually drinking a rye Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Our rye recipe really shines and mixes so well in most classic cocktails. During the warmer months, I drink a lot of Rider Vodka and sodas.
Wanna learn more about Damian or the team? Swing by the distillery during our monthly distillery socials for a chance to chat with the team. Also, stay tuned each month to learn about a different team member.