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July 4, 2014

Building a new dream

After return from Iraq, Seabrook vet opens micro-distillery

SEABROOK — The label is simple but striking: “Solid Granite Vodka,” it reads, “Hand Crafted and Bottled in Seabrook, N.H., U.S.A.”

It’s the first alcoholic beverage made from scratch, bottled and sold by Smoky Quartz Distillery — one of only four micro-distilleries in New Hampshire and the only one owned and operated locally by Seabrook residents.

The company’s name and logo speak to its owner’s love of New Hampshire and profound sense of patriotism and service to the country.

“Smoky quartz is the New Hampshire state gem stone,” said company owner Kevin Kurland, 46. “I wanted something that represented the state.”

The image of an eagle’s head, fashioned in sharp angles and colors of smoky quartz, is an unmistakable likeness of the country’s national symbol: the bald eagle.

“This company is owned and operated and built by veterans, two generations of them,” Kurland said. “My father, Frank, did two tours in the Navy; my uncle, Ken, is a Vietnam combat veteran with two Purple Hearts; my brother, Frank Jr., spent 21 years in the Navy; my stepfather, Dean Loomis, did two tours in the Navy as a submariner, and I’ve been with the Air National Guard for 18 years.”

“I couldn’t have done this without their help and support,” he added.

As it happens, Kurland may never have embarked on this new venture had he not been deployed twice to Iraq. Had he not been sitting at Baghdad International Airport during his second deployment in 2008 awaiting the “all-clear” siren after an Iraqi rocket attack, he may never have read an article in the Wall Street Journal on the history of distilleries in the United States and the recent phenomenon of micro-distilleries that were forging the newest chapter.

“There were rocket attacks at the airport every other day,” Kurland said. “And you couldn’t move until the all-clear siren went off. It could take a while, so you’d better have something to read while you waited. When I read the story on distilleries, I thought it looked like a lot more fun than I was having at that moment.”

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