What’s Bob Dylan’s Latest Surprising Endeavor?

The answer, my friend, is that he’s launching a whiskey brand.

When Bob Dylan sang the lyrics "you’re gonna have to serve somebody," who knew he meant whiskey? The legendary musician is getting into the liquor game, collaborating on his own brand of booze.

The just-launched Heaven’s Door Spirits reflects a team effort between the 76-year-old Nobel laureate and the liquor entrepreneur Marc Bushala.

"Created in partnership with Bob Dylan, Heaven's Door is a collection of American whiskeys for the uncompromising spirit," the brand boasts on its Facebook page.

Distilled in a 140-year-old former church in Nashville, Tennessee – "hallowed ground for American music and whiskey," the Heaven’s Door website notes – the "inaugural trilogy" of small-batch, handcrafted whiskeys includes a straight Tennessee bourbon, a double barrel whiskey and a straight rye whiskey. Each whiskey in the collection comes in a bottle evoking the welded iron gates Dylan makes in his metalworking studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks.

The collection and availability – currently limited to Tennessee, Florida, California, Illinois, New York and Texas – are both expected to expand over time.

So how did the music icon find his way to launching a whiskey brand?

Bushala, who also co-founded Kentucky Straight Bourbon’s Angel’s Envy, told the Guardian he spotted a trademark application the man behind the 13-album Bootleg Series had filed for "bootleg whiskey," so he got in touch with him and suggested they team up.

Dylan put it this way in a press release: "You don’t always find inspiration. Sometimes it finds you. We wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that would each tell a story."

Bushala insists the endeavor is "not a vanity project" for Dylan, but rather "a passion project." He also insists that the musician, who has lent his celebrity status to promote products ranging from Chrysler cars to Victoria’s Secret lingerie, "didn’t sell out," in part because the whiskey represents Dylan’s own vision.

The musician’s signature appears on the packaging only on the back of the label, where it can be seen when the booze dips below it.

"He was willing to do that but he’s not going to appearances or bottle signings," Bushala told the Guardian. "He didn’t even pick up his Nobel prize so he’s not going to go out touting this."

"For people who are surprised that he did a whiskey," Bushala added in an interview with New York Times, "I guess they don’t really know Dylan. People who know him expect him to do things they would never expect."

Need proof (no whiskey pun unintended)? Newport Folk Festival 1965.

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Bob Tuschman

Bob Tuschman serves as General Manager/Senior Vice President for Food Network and appears as a judge on Food Network Star. Find out more on Food Network.

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