Food & Drinks

For #GivingTuesday: These Bourbon Brands Are Giving Back

While much of 2020 is a blur, with many of us losing track of specific dates and times, it’s hard to miss the indulgent commerce-centric days following Thanksgiving known as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Today, Giving Tuesday, is a bit different, though. It’s a time to ditch the electronics sales in favor of charitable giving.

If you want to do your part for #GivingTuesday, and you’re a bourbon lover, or have one on your gift list, these bourbon brands go the extra mile to give back.

Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch

What it is: a collaboration between the LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative—founded by James Beard award-winning author, Top Chef finalist and restaurateur Edward Lee—and Maker’s Mark bourbon, with 100% of proceeds supporting the hospitality industry. Proceeds are distributed to fund freshly cooked meals for workers, supplies and resources to re-grow businesses struggling from the impact of COVID restrictions, including 19 relief kitchens established nationwide. 

The product: Jane Bowie, Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation, has created a Maker’s Mark bottling, that is, in essence, a one-of-a-kind infinity bottle composed of 37 different Private Selection blends that were previously chosen by retailers, restaurants and bars as independent bottlings. It’s “a special release bourbon created by the community, for the community, to support trade and hospitality partners around the country.” Click here to find out where to donate and purchase a bottle, and also take part in a special #GivingTuesday toast with Edward Lee and Jane Bowie. Donations start at around $70. 

Wild Turkey “With Thanks” Partnership with Matthew McConaughey

What it is: Actor Matthew McConaughey was named Creative Director of Wild Turkey in 2016, and “With Thanks” was initially founded in 2017 to donate turkey dinners to those in need and to first responders on the job in natural disasters such as the 2019 Los Angeles area wildfires. This year focuses on “Local Legends” around the country who have spearheaded various causes in response to the pandemic. The recipients included Austin singer/songwriter Nakia Reynoso, who helped pass the Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund to support local musicians; Chicago activist Tanya Lozano who is providing free COVID-19 testing, grocery deliveries and personal protective items to underserved communities in her area; Dallas nonprofit founder Shawana Carter who is providing families in need with emergency diapers, wipes, food and clothing; and New Orleans artist Devin De Wulf who is collaborating with locally-owned restaurants and farmers markets to both hire and feed New Orleans artists and musicians. Each designated community hero was rewarded with a personal video chat with McConaughey and a contribution to their given charities. All the videos can be viewed on Wild Turkey’s Instagram page here

“No one else had put a spotlight on these people, and it was really cool to go and find them,” said McConaughey. “We feel that by shining light on them, all of a sudden people see it—maybe even people who wouldn’t have seen it—and maybe that will make people say, ‘You know what? I’m going to find that person in my own community who’s doing it… or I’m going to become that person.’” 

“It’s great to see people in hard times step forward and do things the way these people have done,” says Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell. 

The product: While there is no specific commemorative “With Thanks” bottle, supporting Wild Turkey supports this ongoing initiative. Festive bottles to try include Master’s Keep 17-Year Bottled-in-Bond, Rare Breed Rye, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel 2003 and Longbranch, McConaughey’s own bourbon blend. 

Heaven Hill 2020 Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Heavy Char Bourbon

What it is: the 14th annual limited edition whiskey commemorating late Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2010. Each one differs in mash bill, cask finish and/or style of whiskey. “It is an honor to continue Parker’s interest in innovation through this series and showcase the variety of Heaven Hill Distillery’s Portfolio,” says Susan Wahl, Vice President, American Whiskies at Heaven Hill. The company contributes a portion of proceeds for each bottling to the ALS Association, and says that since 2013, more than $1 million has been raised. 

The product: This year’s Parker’s Heritage bottling is a traditional bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 12% malted barley and 10% rye that is aged in heavy char (Level 5) barrels (traditional bourbon is aged in Level 3), bottled at 120 proof and non-chill filtered. The whiskey has intense flavors of malted chocolate, orange and baking spices—though it is not overly “charry” or smoky tasting—and has a creamy finish with just a touch of heat. Find it at select retailers for a suggested retail price of $120.00.

Eagle Rare Life Award

What it is: A $50,000 grant in the name of Eagle Rare Bourbon awarded to individuals “whose efforts stand out as those who live a Rare Life and Reach Higher to achieve levels of excellence for themselves and their communities.” Past recipients include individuals fighting against childhood cancer, engaging in environmental activism, and creating opportunities for those with disabilities. The 2020 Eagle Rare Life Award went to Captain Daniel Andrews and Captain Chris Wittman, who run Captains for Clean Water, an organization focused on uniting Florida communities to protect local waterways. Nominations for the 2021 award are open now until December 10th and can be made here

How to contribute: though there is no commemorative bottle, a purchase of Eagle Rare bourbon (or other Buffalo Trace products) supports the cause, or simply donate via the above link.

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