AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – Western New York has become well known for its locally distilled liquors or brewed beers, and new in stores now is a bourbon made by a local veteran who was inspired to help other local veterans and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Veteran Jason Jaskula had been brewing his idea for years, and Thirteen Monkeys finally hit shelves last week.
“My best friend Chris Dill was killed in action on 04/04/05, which adds up to 13, and I just wanted to do something,” said Jaskula of the meaning behind the name. “We always have done shots in the military for our fallen comrades, so I just wanted to something that was special and local to Buffalo.”
Thirteen Monkeys is a five-year-old bourbon mash. You can find it now in local liquor stores, like Addy’s in Amherst.
Its design and label are odes to the military as well as first responders.
“When connected, the 13 stars make one Army chevron, the rank of Private, which reflects that no one starts out at the top, not even Generals or Sergeant Majors,” Jaskula explained, a description that can also be read on the bottle.
He’s been marketing to local stores for weeks now, and Addy’s was among the first to buy in.
“They saw the actual branding of it with Thirteen Monkeys, and the whole story behind it, and what the shield means and how it represents police, firefighters, and the military, and they wanted to do something to help out the local community, just like I wanted to do something to help, and together it paired off,” Jaskula said.
Addy’s owner Louis Mulone agreed.
“I just thought it was the coolest thing, and I said ‘yeah, man!’ Whatever you need us to do, we’ll jump on board,” Mulone told News 4.
Jaskula’s idea is to have a drink to honor the fallen, but of course, it’s for anyone. A bottle of Thirteen Monkeys comes with a customizable medallion that you can create on the Thirteen Monkeys website, you mail the blank medallion to the company, and the company mails it back to you.
A portion of proceeds from the bourbon go to K.I.A. Memorial Roadmarch, Jaskula’s non-profit that honors New Yorkers killed in action and supports local veteran and gold star mother food pantries.
At Addy’s, Mulone has a display at the front of the store to highlight local drinks, and Thirteen Monkeys is now part of that display. He says he is thrilled to help the cause by selling in his store.
“It’s basically family. Everyone in this area is a small business. I’m a small business, and I think there’s nothing better than promoting small business,” Mulone said.
Thirteen Monkeys is made in Buffalo, bottled in Kentucky, and every part of the bottling is made in the United States.
As for how to drink it? Neat or on the rocks is fine, but Jaskula suggests this:
“The thing that we actually came up with is the BOMB: Buffalo’s Own Monkey Beer. You take this, you mix it with root beer, and it’s phenomenal,” he said.
Thirteen Monkeys is available at Addy’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Amherst, Lexi’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Getzville, Cavalier Wine and Spirits in Lackawanna, and Turbo Liquor and Wine in Bowmansville.
Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.