Sure, whiskey is delicious. But drinking great whiskey for a worthy cause tastes even sweeter. Just ask Larry Forrest of Ghost Hollow.

The origin stories of spirit companies are often varied, but frequently share a few common themes. The owners are invariably fans of whatever spirit it is they’re making. They usually have a pretty good idea about making said spirit, and have enough self-confidence to think they can make a decent one that people will like. And lastly, they typically want to leave a legacy, a brand they can be proud of that just might outlast them.

For Quincy, Illinois’ Ghost Hollow Distillery, it’s check, check, and check – but with a twist. Few spirit companies begin with a mission to help people, I mean truly help people; a vision that the products they make and sell will touch the lives of those in need. For Larry Forrest, founder and owner of Ghost Hollow, that’s the only reason his company exists.

Founded in 2015, Ghost Hollow Distillery has been recognized of late for its high-quality products, like its Premium Wheat Vodka, its Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and its American Whiskey – all of which have racked up gold medals in various national spirit competitions. Forrest carefully sources Ghost Hollow spirits from some of the top producers in the country, then puts his own spin on it by cutting their blends with water from Hummel Spring, located 9 miles outside of Quincy. And while it’s nice to be acknowledged for all this hard work, that’s not at all what drives Larry Forrest.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been passionate about helping those in need, especially children and veterans,” Forrest explains. “I figured out that if I started a company dedicated to this passion, it would go further and last longer than any donation I could make in my lifetime.”

And so, Ghost Hollow was born.

All photos courtesy of Ghost Hollow

The idea seemed simple enough.

Larry was a connoisseur of whiskies of all kinds (owing, he says, to the fact that he’s allergic to hops and so doesn’t drink much beer). After a lifetime of sampling different whiskies from around the world, becoming intimately familiar with their production processes and secrets, he thought he might also be able to put together some offerings that people would really enjoy.

“It took ten months to develop the profile for our Straight Bourbon Whiskey,” Larry said, “with the help of a local whiskey club and fellow aficionados we tried a number of different blends, carefully rating each, and then dropping the two with the lowest rating, and then started over again until we finally had our winner. It was a long process, but what ended up in our bottle is worth it.”

And people have started to notice. Aside from their accolades (the Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a two-time John Barleycorn Awards Double Gold Winner and American Spirits Council of Tasters Gold Winner), the demand for their spirits has been growing as well, so much so that they are expanding their warehouse facilities. But this expansion doesn’t mean they’re also expanding into different spirits, instead Larry chooses to stick with what he knows.

“I’d rather make a few things well than make a bunch of different spirits that weren’t as good.”

In time, as the company grows, its mission will be more fully realized. Larry mentions a long list of organizations and causes he’s helped or planning on helping, but he talks most specifically about three of them: the American Legion, the Shriner’s Hospital, and the Western Illinois Dream Factory, an organization not unlike the Make-a-Wish Foundation that grants “wishes” to children with life-threatening illnesses.

“Veterans don’t ask for help and children with special needs can’t,” Larry says matter-of-factly when asked why he’s so passionate about serving these groups in particular.

“My dream,” he then says, almost to himself, “is just to make a difference in the lives of those people who really need a helping hand.”

Ultimately, that’s what Ghost Hollow is all about. And If they keep putting out products like the ones they’re offering right now, it’s a sure bet Larry’s dream will be realized.

You can find more information about Ghost Hollow’s American Bourbon Whiskey, American Whiskey, Straight Rye Whiskey, and Premium Wheat Vodka at

“I’ve always been passionate about helping those in need. I figured out that if I started a company dedicated to this passion, it would go further than any donation I could make in my lifetime.”

—Larry Forrest

Clint Lanier is a professor in the English Department of New Mexico State University. He is also the co-author of Drunken History, Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America, and Craptails: the World’s Worst, Weirdest, and Most Disturbing Drinks. He has also written about spirits and travel for The Huffington Post, Fodors, Eater, and