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The Coquille Indian Tribe and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) have reached a landmark agreement, paving the way for Oregon's first tribally-owned distillery on the Tribe's sovereign lands in Coos Bay. 

The distillery will be housed within The Mill Casino Hotel and RV Park, owned and operated by the Coquille Economic Development Corporation (CEDCO). The new project is expected to create more than 30 new jobs in addition to the 500 team members that currently work at the Mill, according to a spokesperson for the tribe. Construction is slated to begin in the latter half of 2024. 

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The distillery will produce a variety of spirits to be sold at the casino's bars, restaurants, and a new retail store in the casino. Revenue generated will directly benefit the Tribe's 1,200 members through healthcare, education, and social services across five Southern Oregon counties.

The Coquille Tribe selected Heritage Distilling Company, Inc. of Gig Harbor, Washington, as a  partner for this venture. Heritage Distilling brings experience working with tribes, having previously partnered with both the Chehalis Tribe in Washington state and the Tonto Apache Tribe in Arizona. 

In Washington, Heritage Distilling collaborated with the Chehalis Tribe to open the Talking Cedar brewery and distillery in 2020. This project marked a significant achievement, as it required overcoming a federal ban on liquor production in Indian Country, which Heritage Distilling successfully lobbied to repeal in 2018.

In Arizona, Heritage Distilling is partnering with the Tonto Apache Tribe to develop a spirits distillery and tasting room adjacent to the tribe's Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. This project is part of the Tonto Apache Tribe's Apache Corners Initiative, a multi-year development project aimed at creating new economic opportunities for the tribe and the surrounding community.

"The Tribe has always had a vision for expansion to meet the needs of today's sophisticated travelers," said Margaret Simpson, CEO of CEDCO, said in a statement. "Heritage Distilling's experience working with tribes aligns perfectly with our goals."

The project extends beyond the distillery, encompassing a “multi-million dollar” renovation of The Mill Casino, according to the tribe’s spokesperson. Plans include a state-of-the-art tasting room featuring Heritage Distilling's Cask Club program, allowing members to personalize their own spirits. Additionally, the project will enhance the waterfront dining experience with unparalleled views of Coos Bay.

"This project demonstrates our commitment to our patrons, guests, and the local economy," CEO Simpson said. "We are confident this evolution will attract new visitors while remaining a cherished destination for our longstanding guests."

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