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Matthew Lillard debuts fantasy-inspired spirits

Good Girls star Matthew Lillard has created a fantasy-inspired spirits company, with 16 whiskeys planned for release over the next four years.

Quest’s End: Paladin
Quest’s End: Paladin is bottled at 50% ABV

The American actor, who has starred in films such as Scooby Doo and The Descendants, has joined forces with Blue Run Spirits co-founder Tim Sparapani and screenwriter Justin Ware to launch Find Familiar Spirits.

In addition to acting, Lillard is a dedicated tabletop gamer, and co-founder of Beadle & Grimm’s, a manufacturer of expanded editions for tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG) including Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and Magic: The Gathering.

After seeing Sparapani’s success with Kentucky whiskey maker Blue Run Spirits (which was recently sold to Molson Coors), Lillard saw the opportunity to create a “high-end spirits experience” for the fantasy community, a venture he has worked on for the past 18 months.

The debut release from the company is the Quest’s End Whiskey brand, a super-premium blended whiskey. The brand will make its debut in October with Quest’s End: Paladin (50% ABV), followed by three whiskeys in 2024: Rogue, Warlock, and Dragon.

The debut release is made using whiskey from barrels sourced from Kentucky and Indiana.

Each bottle in the range will be accompanied by a booklet containing chapters of a new saga written by Kate Welch, a game designer who worked on the fifth edition of D&D.

Each expression has a different flavour profile based on a fictional character depicted in the newly created saga, Lillard explained.

The Quest’s End range will include 16 bottlings in total, to be released every three to four months over the course of four years.

TX Whiskey’s former blender, Ale Ochoa, has been brought on board as master blender and director of spirits for Find Familiar Spirits.

The bottle art and design for Quest’s End was created by Tyler Jacobson, an artist and illustrator, known for his work on D&D, Magic: The Gathering, and more.

TTRPG players will recognise elements from well-known games in the designs of the Quest’s End range, including a ‘hit point’ (HP) on the bottle that measures the health of the character.

Only 5,000 bottles will be available of the inaugural release, said Lillard, who is hoping to target gaming fans and collectors.

Paladin will go on sale on 6 October with shipping beginning in November. Each bottle in the Quest’s End range will retail at US$150 per bottle.

Lillard said Quest’s End would be sold directly to consumers through online alcohol retailer Seelbach’s as “distribution and shelf space is hard to get”, particularly in the US where a three-tier system is in place.

“We are trying to bypass the monolithic sort of distribution model in the spirits world,” he noted. “We’re not trying to compete against every single Bourbon brand out there. We’re trying to be the biggest brand in fantasy.”

Spirits for fictional worlds

Matthew Lillard
Matthew Lillard: “I’m ready for a new challenge”

The actor is also looking into creating spirits for other fandoms. “We’ll work a little like a Hollywood movie studio; we are prepared to deliver different experiences for different communities,” he said.

“I’ve been approached by a couple of Hollywood producers that have an IP [intellectual property] that belongs in a TV show or movie.

“We pitched it to them originally, but the idea is that if someone is drinking a whisky in a [fictional] world or on a show, let us create it and bring it to market. So we think a fan of an IP would be like, ‘oh I’d love to purchase that’.”

Lillard would also like to expand into other spirits categories, including gin and Tequila.

“One of the things I’ve latched on to is Tequila – I drink Tequila primarily,”  he added. “We also love the idea of doing gin, which we can do relatively easily. Bourbon takes so much time. Ale is really interested in doing something in gin.”

He will also use his “high-end” TTRPG accessory company, Beadle & Grimm’s, to promote his spirits to the gaming community.

“It’s a very symbiotic relationship, we’re trying to build a relationship with the whiskey community and gaming community and hopefully, we spark interest and we get people to sort of buy into the journey,” he added.

Taking on the new venture is a “big moment for me in my career”, said Lillard, who is due to star in a film adaptation of the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s, scheduled for release in October 2023.

On how he will balance the spirits venture with his acting career, he said: “I’ve been around for a long time and there’s so many ebbs and flows.

“There’s times when people in Hollywood are excited about you, and there’s times when they’re just not. So I’m happily taking on a new challenge, and acting is part of my life, but it’s not my entire life.

“One of the great things in the last 10 years of my career is gaining this entrepreneurial spirit and building things I’m excited about.

“I’m diversifying and this is one of those ways. I’ve been acting since I was 13. So I’m ready for a new challenge.”

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