Throughout history and at the inception of America, the Bourbon Whiskey industry has mirrored society. There are both hidden and unhidden tales of triumph and travesty. The Bourbon industry continues to survive the test of times. People are ready to have conversations about race and social issues. And because of that, we hear the rumble of once whispered family stories of African American Bourbon traditions that speak of secret recipes and hidden distilleries in the hollers of Kentucky and the urban communities that are at the heart of Bourbon country.
The Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 caused a transition in the whiskey industry. It was a period of improvement in the American economy and technology, It ushered in a period of mass production of bourbon. Oral traditions and deeds of sale buried in the archives indicate that a strong labor force was needed. It is estimated by 1850, 28% of the population in Kentucky were enslaved African Americans. Therefore, without a doubt, African Americans completed the labor-intensive tasks of creating Bourbon and solidifying its place in history as an American tradition. Their soon to be told stories and voices are in every recipe, building structure, and in every sip. We have a commitment to honor their Stories and legacies. Let’s enjoy and educate.