Whiskey remains an American favorite and it looks like things will stay that way for quite a while. In fact, the market has been growing at a steady pace, and it’s become very competitive over the years. New producers keep cropping up left and right, making it challenging for the average whiskey drinker to decide on what they want to buy and which brands they should support.
If you’re looking for distilleries with a unique angle to them, you should try some Black-owned whiskey brands. This corner of the market has been growing, albeit not as quickly as the whiskey market as a whole. The great thing about these unique voices in the whiskey arena is that they can bring something new to the table. When you buy Black-owned whiskeys, you aren't just supporting Black entrepreneurs, you're supporting new ideas in a largely homogenous market.
There are not that many in the US right now – just over a dozen brands that I could find – but they all bring something unique to the table. If you’re a supporter of diversity and the idea that everyone should get a fair chance to establish themselves on the market, I think it's worth giving these brands a shot at a permanent place in your whiskey shelf.
Personally, I've noticed that many of these brands are not available in my area. In fact, these were all new to me, despite me being a whiskey fan, so as the title says, you spend the time to seek them out. Call your local bottle shop to see if they have them (or can get them), or simply order them online if they ship to your state.
Black-Owned Whiskey Brands You Should Support
When Jonathan Gillard founded Majesty Bourbon, he already had significant experience with the alcohol industry under his belt. Despite his initial success before founding Majesty Bourbon though, Jonathan was disappointed with the fact that his work did not truly belong to him. That led him to the creation of the famous distillery which has been thriving ever since.
According to Jonathan, his initial solo venture into the spirits market was full of challenges. He had to come to terms with the fact that his community was underrepresented on that front and faced a lot of initial skepticism. Through his perseverance, he was able to overcome the anxiety looming over his shoulders and diligently built his brand with the help of various people he met along the way.
Today, Majesty Bourbon is anything but a niche brand. It’s recognized all over the country, and you might have even seen it at your local store. Lauded for its unique flavor profile, the brand has been growing steadily and has gained a large following.
Founded by brothers Victor, Christian, and Bryson Yarbrough, Brough Brothers is another well-known brand on the whiskey market. The three split their duties evenly, each handling a different part of the company’s operations. While not every business built on family connections ends up successful, Brough Brothers is one of the more notable exceptions.
Each bottle of Brough Brothers bourbon is a finely crafted experience with a lot of attention to detail. It’s not just about the bourbon itself – though it’s of course the highlight of the ordeal. The brothers have put a lot of thought into the design of their bottles, each decorated with intricate art that symbolizes the culture of Kentucky.
It doesn’t matter which aspect of Kentucky and its traditions you love the most – whether it’s basketball, boxing, horse racing, or bourbon itself, opening a bottle of Brough Brothers is always a delightful experience that connects you to the state’s roots.
Rising Sun Distillery
The couple behind Rising Sun Distillery originally had their eyes set on a different goal – they wanted to open a beer garden. However, as fate would have it, that idea didn’t get a chance to see the light. Dawn and Sol Richardson then decided to change course and explore a different angle – leading to the creation of the beloved Denver distillery.
According to the two, it took them a lot of experimentation to get the recipe just right. But according to pretty much everyone who’s had a chance to try a sip of their famous whiskey, all the effort was well worth it.
The distillery continues a family tradition of fighting for justice and equality, rooted in Sol’s grandfather and his activism. Elbert Richardson Jr was instrumental in promoting social justice movements related to his community, and a lot of that was clearly passed on to his grandson.
It wasn’t a smooth ride, especially on the bureaucratic front which proved challenging for the two entrepreneurs who insisted on doing everything on their own. But once their business stabilized, their success started snowballing. Eventually, they opened up their own physical stores where they proudly sell their line of products.
Wild Creek Distillery
The two brothers who founded Wild Creek had a knack for alcohol from their childhoods – though not in the way of drinking it. From a young age, they were exposed to the brewing practices of their grandfather, and took up a special interest in how he handled his work and what he produced. It didn’t take long before the idea of founding their own distillery formed in their heads, leading to the creation of one of Georgia’s most famous distilleries.
Today, Wild Creek produces delightful spirits fit for different tastes, but with a unique and consistent flavor profile across the board. The company is also actively involved in various social movements. During the peak of the pandemic, Wild Creek started producing hand sanitizer to aid in the fight against Corona.
They haven’t let their success get to their heads though. The founders of Wild Creek Distillery remain friendly and open to everyone – something else they claim to have learned from the old man making his moonshine.
Uncle Nearest Distillery
The story of Nathan Green – or Uncle Nearest, as most people know him – started close to Lynchburg, dating far back into history, before abolition even came to the scene. The distillery was originally associated with a moonshine operation that enjoyed a lot of popularity in the area, and Uncle Nearest was a well-known community figure.
The long history of the distillery and its close association with the cozy, welcoming nature of Tennessee have made it a favorite not just for locals, but across the entire country. Many have come to associate the name Uncle Nearest with a particular, consistent flavor, and a great approach to customer service.
The distillery is still going strong nowadays. Its product lineup has changed over the years, partly motivated by market factors and partly following the development of its own surrounding community. But at its heart, Uncle Nearest remains the same as it ever was. And that’s all its fans could ever ask for.
The four founders of Greenwood Whiskey claim that the brand is a tribute to “Black Wall Street” and all the Black entrepreneurs that managed to carve out a path for themselves in the century before the brand arrived on the market.
While the gentlemen have been relatively reserved about their success, they still occasionally open up about their situation and discuss their struggles on the way to becoming one of the more popular whiskey brands in the area.
Greenwood Whiskey is about more than the whiskey itself – it’s a pillar of the Black community in the United States, with a portion of all proceeds being donated to various charities dedicated to educating young entrepreneurs from all walks of life.
Fresh Bourbon holds the title of the first Black-owned bourbon distillery in Kentucky. It has progressed heavily since its original inception. The company recently announced that it’s investing over $5 million into a brand-new distillery with an impressive size of nearly 35,000 sq. ft.
The people behind the brand seem to have a thing against snobs trying to tell people how they should enjoy their whiskey, and decided to take things to the next level by founding a brand that’s all about providing a fresh experience to those who enjoy bourbon.
They claim to have no problem with how different people want to drink their product, encouraging everyone to try it in as many different configurations as they want. This is a product aimed at pretty much everyone who has even a broad interest in whiskey and wants to experiment with it to the fullest.
Exclave Spirits was founded with the intention of immortalizing the numerous Black folks who have contributed to the culture and development of the country but have gone ignored by history. The company’s founders recognize that the Black community is often marginalized or even outright not considered at all, and they intend on changing the status quo.
The brand boasts three main principles as integral to its success: authenticity, freedom, and self-determination. The people behind Exclave Spirits have therefore decided to dedicate each product in their lineup to those three values, exploring how they relate to modern American society and the place of Black people within it.
It’s a whiskey intended to celebrate a culture and its legacy, and it also happens to have a unique flavor profile that’s attracted a large following that’s been growing steadily ever since the company’s founding.
Du Nord Social Spirits
Chris Montana, one of the two people behind Du Nord, claims that he never envisioned himself going that far in the business world. What started as a random idea without any serious planning put into it eventually turned into a prominent brand on the spirits market, enjoying great popularity nowadays. His wife Shanelle played a major role in the business too, and still supports his venture to this day.
According to Chris, the business likely wouldn’t have seen fruition if it wasn’t for his wife’s family farm which provided an ample supply of corn.
Du Nord rose to prominence after the tragic death of George Floyd, who was murdered in the very town where Chris Montana grew up. He saw the event as a turning point, both in his own life and in the existence of the Black community as a whole, and decided to leverage his business to show support for Black people across the country.
Today, Du Nord continues to make progress on the market and the brand still shows strong support for various social movements. Chris regularly uses his publicity to promote positivity and inclusiveness, while his company has established a firm position in the whiskey market and is enjoyed by thousands of loyal customers.
Rams & Parrots
Named after the mascots of the founders’ middle school and high school, Rams & Parrots was founded by several childhood friends who saw an opportunity to promote social justice and equality while doing something they all loved. They were inspired by a long-running family tradition of gathering everyone around a bowl of homemade punch, something which they wanted to take even further.
Rams & Parrots is a whiskey brand with a strong presence on the equality scene, making a regular appearance at various events that promote inclusiveness and social justice. The generous founders of the brand seize every opportunity they get to share their product with their fans without asking for anything in return – other than people’s attentiveness to the world around them and the communities they live in.