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Whisky Advocate: The Whisky World Responds To Global Anti-Racism Movement

July 1, 2020

In the weeks following the killing of George Floyd, as protests against police brutality and structural racism toward African Americans roiled seemingly every aspect of American life, many businesses released statements expressing their intent to be more diverse and inclusive.

Yet initially, American whiskey brands largely remained silent, prompting the Black Bourbon Society (BBS) to publish an open letter on June 7 to the Bourbon and American whiskey industry, calling out whiskey brands for not publicly speaking out against racism; the letter also details the many ways that African Americans have played an important role in the industry’s success, and continue to support it. Major distilleries and smaller companies alike are now reckoning with and confronting enduring forms of racial injustice—including within their own industry.

Since the letter was made public, “We have received overwhelming support and response from the majority of the Bourbon brands,” BBS founder and CEO Samara Rivers says. “So far, everyone is committed to figuring this out.” Major brands and companies such as Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, and Heaven Hill have released statements expressing their support for the Black community while explicitly denouncing racism and outlining initial steps they’re taking to combat it. Whisky Advocate has the full story.—Zak Kostro

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