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Here's to Phill!

1350 Distilling is made up for four individuals; two couples who met through the wives who worked together at Douglass Valley Elementary School on the Air Force Academy. Each partner is unique and contributes special talents and personality for our business. This is the fourth and final biography of our partners. We hope you get to know each of us.

My name is Phill Bragg.

I was born in Fresno, moved around a bit and then ended up back in Fresno to start my sophomore year in high school. That is where I first met the love of my life, Kandis. The minute I saw her, I knew she was the one I wanted. It took a while, and it was not a straight line, but eventually we ended up together and have been together ever since.

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a Marine. My father was in the Navy and I loved the stories he told about being at sea and in foreign ports. It sounded way better than Fresno. But it was my Uncle John who really got me interested. I spent one summer at his house. He had an enormous library of books on the military and I would spend hours every day going through them and reading what I could. It began my lifelong love for reading and military history. It doesn’t take long to learn that if you are going to join the military, the Marine Corps is where the action is. The Marine Corps has a special place in not just our nation's history, but in the annals of great military organizations. I wanted to be a part of that.

I wanted to enlist right out of high school, but since I was only 17 I needed my parents’ permission. My dad was all for it, but my mom thought it would be better if I joined the Reserves so I could go to college. She was right, of course, so that is what I did. I shipped to boot camp 4 days after high school graduation. I loved it from the minute I stepped on the yellow footprints. Of course it was hard, but the idea of pushing yourself to the limit, doing things others can't, working as a team to overcome impossible odds, and the complete meritocracy of it, totally appealed to me. Since I was not afraid of hard work and had no problem following orders, I thrived. I did more research and decided to become an officer. So I put my paperwork in and got selected.

In 1990, the Gulf War broke out. My reserve unit got activated and deployed to Yuma, Arizona to train and prepare for overseas deployment. But the war did not last long and we were sent home shortly before our date to deploy overseas. I thought I had missed my one and only chance to fight for my country; I was wrong.

Not long after after I returned home, I reconnected with Kandis and we eventually started dating again, got engaged and then married. In 1995, I graduated from Fresno State with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, accepted my commission as a 2ndLt in the Marines, and Kandis and I started our incredible military journey.

Over the next 22 years, I would advance from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel. We would move 15 times, crisscrossing the country and having two little girls. It was an amazing career and I would not change it for anything. I was able to do things most people only read about or see in movies: fast rope from a Huey, ski under the aurora borealis north of the arctic circle, cross the equator and the International Date Line on ship, fly in an F18, UH-1 Cobra and pretty much every helicopter in US inventory, stop in foreign ports, lead a hundred men in the middle of the night with nothing but a map and your wits, and so much more. Along the way I made friends with so many great people, have led and been led by many more and shared the raising of my family with so many great families.

During that time I did get to fight. I did four combat tours that encompassed the entirety of our 21st century conflict. I was the commander of an artillery battery during the invasion of Iraq as part of the 1st Marine Division. We started the war in Kuwait and ended in Tikrit. I returned again as part of the Marine Division staff and helped plan and execute the battle for Fallujah and the first election in Iraq’s history. I also served in Afghanistan. First, as part of an embedded training team with the Afghan Army. I then returned as the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines. We were the last Marine Artillery Battalion to deploy to Afghanistan before the American presence in Afghanistan was reduced.

It was an amazing run, but when I got to Colorado Springs I knew that things were coming to an end. Kandis and I both fell in love with Colorado Springs and the time was right for me to retire. So we did and have begun the next chapter in our life.

I knew that eventually I wanted to own my own business. I started distilling as a hobby and one day I went to a distillery for a tour and it really got me intrigued. I did several more tours and quickly realized that this was an upcoming market. I also realized that most of the distilleries I went to were not very good at meeting what I considered the four critical elements of a good distillery. I felt that if you could do all four of these on a consistent basis, you could be very successful. I enrolled in the SBA Boots-to-Business program and built a full business plan and at that point I knew I was on to something. Eventually I realized that I would need a partner. Fortunately I had met Jake and had a feeling that he would be a good partner. We discussed it and decided to launch.

My idea was always to have a military themed distillery and I knew we needed a good name. 1350 works because it is not obvious until you hear it and then it is unforgettable. I think it also reflects the inclusion of our brand as we are not just about one service or one role. We are about the American fighting spirit that includes the whole military community. Even though I am a Marine and will bleed scarlet and gold until I die, I love all branches of service and the civilians and families that support them. America is blessed to have so many amazing Patriots. So 1350, and the American Flag by association, is our true identity.

Having served my entire adult life in the military, obviously the flag means a great deal to me. I have seen firsthand the price Americans pay to protect it. But I am not your typical “flag waver.” My patriotism comes from a deep respect for our exceptional form of government, the brilliance of our Founding Fathers and the bravery of the first Patriots, the weight of the sacrifices of those that have come before us, and my deep sense of duty to protect our community and way of life. Every time I see the stars and stripes it still sends a tingle up my spine and gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and pride.

What makes 1350 Distilling different than other local distilleries?

  1. Excellent products made from locally sourced ingredients

  2. Exceptional customer service in an upscale but comfortable environment

  3. A tasting room experience that will surprise and delight people due to the creativity and attention to detail

  4. An awesome tour that will educate and entertain

  5. Commitment and support to our community

I want to see 1350 become a pillar of the community. Not just as an economic engine to drive jobs and business, but also as a supporter of the community and active participant. I want us to be involved at all levels of the community. I also want our location to be a space where local groups congregate to do business and enjoy themselves.

So please come check us out. We know you will not only have a great drink, but you will feel part of an amazing community of true American Patriots!

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