Righteous Road in good spirits for Passover

By Lee J. Green

Putting his Judaism into his product creations has led to high spirits for St. Louis entrepreneur David Hermelin.

He founded Righteous Road in 2018, and his kosher craft spirits company now ships to over 40 states, while also being in stores across Missouri, New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Illinois and Maryland.

“In 2014, the craft bourbon market really started to soar,” said Hermelin. “I thought about the creativity in craft bourbons and how that might translate into creating unique spirit brands that partnered with Jewish themes.”

“The kosher market (for craft liquors) was also underserved,” he said. “It seemed that there was an opportunity to do something innovative and but also spiritually meaningful. ”

Hermelin concocted the idea of branding his first product Righteous Seven.  This premium liqueur is a blend made from all seven fruits and grains (the seven species) that praise the Land of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy as “a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (honey).”  Since its launch, Righteous Seven has won multiple Double Gold Medals.

As part of his previous career in the pharmaceuticals industry, one of Hermelin’s jobs was to research and come up with new product ideas that had some kind of competitive advantage.

“If I was going to try and compete in the craft spirits market, I knew I needed to develop concepts that weren’t already being done,” he said. After coming up with the idea for his company, Righteous Road Craft Spirits, he began collaborating with a distiller in Kansas City to research and develop Righteous Seven.

Once the product was refined with the right combination of the seven species and ready to launch, he found a distiller in the St. Louis area to manufacture and bottle the product.

“Winning the Double Gold Medals at some of the national craft liquor competitions really inspired confidence that we had something to really build off of,” said Hermelin.

Righteous Road now manufactures five different kosher craft liquors. In 2021, the company launched The Fifth Cup Liqueur. It contains no wheat or grains, and is kosher for Passover.

“It has dates, figs, apricots, almonds and pistachios,” he said. “Historically there was a custom of drinking a fifth cup on Passover night after the four cups of wine. I thought it was a fitting and unique name for a brand that could be enjoyed on Passover.”

Hermelin grew up Conservative and has “grown in his level of observance” as an adult. He lived in Israel for a few years in the 1990s, studied at a Yeshiva, and has a couple of brothers who currently live in Israel with their families.

“I came up with the name Righteous Road because to me, the road of life should be traveled righteously.  A person that aspires towards a meaningful path guided by the Creator,” he said. “It’s about bringing goodness to the world while also defending the principles of moral virtue in the face of challenge and depravity.”

Hermelin said that while Righteous Road is a Jewish-owned company that makes kosher products, he has seen increased business from outside of the Jewish community.

“The market in the Jewish world is a perfect fit, but you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Righteous Road,” he said. “America is founded on Judeo-Christian principles and our products resonate with that historical connection as well as the love for the land and country of Israel… and really, it’s also about having products that taste good!”

Hermelin said he is continually thinking of new products, including the development of a Righteous Road bourbon whiskey and other special release bourbons that are finished in Righteous Road liqueur barrels.

“We’re building off of our core and trying to come up with ideas that fit with our brand, but also lead us into some new directions,” he said.