Veteran owned Clifford Distilling sees growth in first year in Port Arthur

Published 12:36 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

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A lot has happened in the year since Sean Clifford began running the first legal whiskey operation in his family — Clifford Distilling LLC.

The business, located at 235 Procter St. in Port Arthur, has hosted numerous events; held tastings and tours; created a variety of spirits that can be found in liquor stores, bars and restaurants and there is plans for other products.

The most recent designation was being named the Veteran Business of the Year by the Lamar State College Small Business Development Center.

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Clifford spent 23 years in the U.S. Army and retired as an officer. He and his wife, Wendy, own and operate the distillery, a first of its kind in Port Arthur.

Clifford said he was honored and excited when he learned of the award.

Clifford Distilling is located at 235 Procter St. in Port Arthur. (Chris Moore/The News)

As a 100 percent, veteran-owned business, Clifford also employs retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Matt Barrows as operations manager.

“As we grow I look to hire more and more vets,” Clifford said.

His work with veterans goes further.

His wife said they are looking to partner with Camp Hope out of Houston and host a benefit for PTSD awareness.

Camp Hope helps retired combat veterans dealing with issues such as PTSD and related issues in hopes of getting them healed and back in society.

Clifford said the benefit is planned June 23 at the distillery and will be first class with tickets sold.

There will also be a public event April 22 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the opening of Clifford Distillery.

Clifford said in the year they have been open they have seen some hard times but are now seeing the light. In fact they are working on three new labels of whiskey — Clifford Mountain Water, Clifford Select and Clifford Reserve.

In addition they have partnered with individuals from India for an Indian line of spirits.

He is looking to push his product out across major cities in the U.S. then India.

As Clifford works on the new labels and moving his products, there’s also Rice University Veterans Business Battle.

Clifford Distillery is one of the final 16 veteran-owned businesses in the competition for funding.

According to Rice Business website, the competition is for veterans who own their own business or are interested in starting their own business. It is described as a “Shark Tank” style event.

On April 20, Clifford will go to compete for a spot in the final 5, he said.

The shop

Clifford Distillery is open for tastings and tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

They also host Industry After Hours on the third Thursday of the month. This event allows people in industry to network, socialize and have a drink.

The distillery has an area for rent where civic groups hold meetings and is also available for meetings for first responders or veterans organizations at no charge.

Sean and Wendy Clifford said they were thankful to the SBDC nomination committee as well as for the community‘s support.