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Liquor Commission offers toast to the Old Man of the Mountain

Staff Report
December 18. 2013 8:02PM

The Old Man of the Mountain's image and the state motto, “Live Free or Die,” is on the front of the commemorative liquor bottle, which was unveiled during a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Concord. The limited edition bottles will help fund the restoration of the 115 flags at the Hall of Flags at the State House. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks during a new conference Wednesday at the State House to introduce the limited edition Old Man of the Mountain commemorative liquor bottle, two of which are on display. The bottle sales will help fund the restoration of the 115 flags in the Hall of Flags at the State House. Thomas Roy/Union Leader

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Liquor Commission on Wednesday unveiled an Old Man of the Mountain liquor bottle to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the state landmark and to raise funds to preserve the historic Hall of Flags at the State House.

The bottle was displayed for the first time at a news conference attended by Gov. Maggie Hassan, Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica and state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, who sponsored legislation ordering the creation of the bottle, as well as other lawmakers.

12/18/13 The Hall of Flags, during a press conference to introduce limited edition Old Man of the Mountain Commemorative Liquor Bottle, to help fund the restoration of the 115 flags from the Hall of Flags, at the State House, on Wednesday, at the State House, in Concord. Thomas Roy/Union Leader

The iconic Old Man of the Mountain fell on May 3, 2003. It has been the state's emblem since 1945.

"It was 10 years ago that the Old Man of the Mountain tumbled, but the memory of the Old Man and its place in New Hampshire lore has never subsided," said the Liquor Commission.

Limited edition Old Man of the Mountain liquor bottles are available for $29.99 at all New Hampshire Liquor and Outlets. There are fewer than 9,000 Old Man bottles available, and they are filled with "premium vodka," the commission said.

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The Hall of Flags, situated inside the front entrance to the State House, displays 115 flags from the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. The Civil War has the largest representation with 88 flags.

The oak cases that contain the flags are well-maintained but are not airtight, the Liquor Commission said, and, "Consequently the flags, which are made from mostly silk and cotton, with some actually containing gold leaf, as well as lead-based paint, have deteriorated."

According to the Liquor Commission, it will cost more than $1 million to preserve the flags, and the commemorative bottles are a small part of the fundraising effort, expected to raise about $85,000.

Watters sponsored the bill that called on the Liquor Commission to produce a commemorative liquor bottle with proceeds going to the flags' preservation.

Co-sponsors were state Sen. David Boutin, House Speaker Terie Norelli, and Reps. David Hess and Janet Wall.

"The Hall of Flags is just one of those sacred places in New Hampshire. It's really a symbol of the state's commitment to freedom," said Watters, who purchased the first bottle at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet on Storrs Street in Concord.

Hassan said, "The Old Man of the Mountain is an iconic image of New Hampshire, and it is fitting that the Old Man's likeness will help us raise support for the Hall of Flags, one of our state's most special and historic public places."

A Flag Advisory Committee is charged with recommending the best way to preserve the flags.

Van McLeod, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, is chairman of the committee, which comprises state officials, legislators and stakeholders.

Virginia Drew, director of the State House Visitor Center, said more than 30,000 school children visit the Hall of Flags annually, and during heavy tourism periods, about 100 people visit the Hall each day.

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