Sharing a “Sip and a Smoke” with Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten
When someone imagines a war hero, they should picture Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten. From serving in the military for over 20 years including the elite Delta Force during the Battle of Mogadishu to now serving as a doctor at the VA giving back to those who are combating from the invisible battle of PTSD. We proudly raise our glasses to our founder and an all-around great guy, Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten.
HY: We use words like ‘complex’ and ‘spicy’ to describe a whiskey. Which words would you use for yourself if you were a whiskey?
Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten: Powerful and drinkable. Like Hooten Young American Whiskey.
HY: What was your first experience smoking a cigar like?
Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten: My first cigar was smoked in Panama, right after the capture of Manuel Noriega. Somebody managed to find a box of Cuban cigars with the initials M.A.N. which stood for Manuel Antonio Noriega. I was in my mid-20s and I didn’t really enjoy it all that much at the time, but all of us smoked one to celebrate his capture.
HY: You said you really didn’t enjoy the cigar then, do you enjoy them now?
Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten: I do enjoy them now. I started smoking cigars with my son who went to West Point. It’s something that he would do to pass the time up there, and it was a way for me to connect with my son when he would come home. Both Tim (Young) and I have sons who went to West Point so we would all sit around and have cigars together.
Smoking a cigar isn’t an everyday thing for me unless I’m hanging out with a certain group of people – laughs. It’s more of a weekend thing for me.
HY: Describe what the process has been like working with a distiller.
Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten: It’s been enlightening. I had no idea the level of involvement that went into working with a distiller and getting a product to market. It’s a three-tier system. From working with a distiller, then working with someone who bottles the product, and then finding a distributor. Finding a distributor is probably the most difficult part of the whole process. I learned a lot about it. I’ve been drinking whiskey since I was much too young, but in the past 8 months, I learned more than in my entire life.
My dad and my grandfather used to make their own whiskey when I was a kid, but of course, it wasn’t for legal sale, but it was something that was quite common where I grew up.
HY: What’s your favorite way to enjoy Hooten Young American Whiskey?
Retired Master Sgt. Norm Hooten: I prefer it straight out of the bottle. Neat with a really good cigar and good friends. Nothing to mix with it, just straight up.