SPORTS ILLUSTRATED | West Virginia Gets NIL Boost from Bourbon Launch

By Matthew Postins —

Country Roads Trust – West Virginia’s official NIL collective – is partnering with Swilled Dog for a bourbon series with proceeds benefiting the Mountaineers’ NIL efforts.

This latest spirits collaboration allows for a percentage of sales to benefit WVU student-athletes through the collective.

CRT and Swilled Dog – the Upper Tract, WV-based and female-majority owned brand – will start a Trust Bourbon series presale on November 30, with availability in 41 states.

Per their collaboration announcement social media posts, Swilled Dog describes the partnership as going “beyond mere collaboration; it represents a shared commitment to excellence, innovation, and community impact.”

In August, CRT entered a partnership with Big Timber Brewing to create Trust Lager, with 15 percent of those sales going to NIL efforts.

The CRT Trust – one of the first collectives in the country – was founded by former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck and Ken Kendrick. The group’s advisory board features some of WVU athletics’ most prominent stars including Jerry West, Pat White, Don Nehlen and Darryl Talley, among others.

Sports Illustrated’s Noah Henderson recently explored how collectives have been leveraging a loophole enabling alcohol companies the ability to market themselves through NIL partnerships.

Henderson hi Penn State’s Happy Valley United launching a vodka to support Nittany Lion athletes, while collectives at Tennessee and Alabama have also partnered with distilleries to create similar vodka products. 

There have been quite a few collectives who have launched beers over the past few months including Boise State, Iowa, Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Indiana, Cincinnati, South Carolina and West Virginia. 

Country Roads Trust going the bourbon-route is definitely a differentiator, with hopes of driving strong financial support to Mountaineer athletes.

West Virginia football is having a bounce-back season under coach Neal Brown, who was under fire after a losing season in 2022. If the Mountaineers beat Baylor on Saturday they will win eight games after being picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll.