The LEE Initiative was originally founded to help mentor women in the culinary arts, but when the pandemic hit focus shifted to feeding restaurant and hospitality workers. Maker’s Mark stepped in to help fun the effort through the release of Private Select bottles and CommUNITY was born. These highly sought-after bottles raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, which went directly to food aid in communities across America.
The next CommUNITY batch is in the works, and so far I have had the privilege of selecting two of the barrels that will go into the final blend of 22 barrels.
The first I participated in was in early May with whiskey clubs. I went as the President of the Bourbon Women Association and the other groups included KOBBE, The Lexington Bourbon Society, and the Bourbon Society. We had the opportunity to design 8-10 different blends before finally voting on our favorite, and it was not an easy decision. As whiskey pros, we made some really great blends and the choice almost ended in an arm-wrestling match.
Today I went with the whiskey media and we selected another really great barrel, but the consensus was considerably easier to come by this time. We broke off into teams and each came up with our favorites and then voted on them in a blind trial. It was a landslide.
These barrels will make it into the CommUNITY batch that will be released on Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Maker’s Mark is generously continuing to support this initiative as restaurant and hospitality workers transition back into the workplace or the “new normal” of restaurants, where women will still be underrepresented. These mentoring programs will have the power to reshape the future of hospitality into a place that is more inclusive, and it was all done with whiskey.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl