Dating back to 1915, Black History Month became officially recognized decades later in 1976 when Gerald Ford called upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
From unearthing the true origins of Jack Daniels Whiskey to bonafide MIT wunderkinds making Rum, Black blenders, distillers and entrepreneurs have all made significant contributions to the Spirits industry, at its root. It is essential to fight for their fair share of the spotlight.
Grab a drink and join us in celebrating some of the amazing movers, shakers, and badass trailblazers of the Spirits biz. These are the men and women of color that defied the odds, bucked the system, reclaimed history, and boldly innovated in a way that continues to change a centuries-old industry for the better. Broaden your Spirits horizons with these incredible gems for BHM and beyond.
Grab a drink and join us in celebrating some of the amazing movers, shakers, and bad*** trailblazers of the spirits biz. These are the men and women of color that defied the odds, bucked the system, and boldly innovated in a way that continues to change a centuries-old industry for the better. Broaden your Spirits horizons with these incredible gems for BHM and beyond.
Brace your tastebuds for a sip of something extraordinary. From American Whiskeys to Caribbean Rums and award-winning Vodkas, these unique American brands owned and founded by Black men and women are unequivocally worthy of a spot on your Top Shelf. Behind every great bottle is an incredible story with individuals who are every bit as extraordinary as their brand:
Sephina Spirits is a blend of V.S.O.P. Cognac and Pineau Des Charentes (a fortified wine) inspired by the legendary Josephine Baker, the world’s first female Black superstar. Josephine was not only a performer, she was a civil rights activist, and even an allied spy during WWII. She was the ultimate provocateur.
Ken Gilbert created the recipe for Sephina after stumbling upon the Josephine Baker cocktail, a luscious combination of French Cognac, Port Wine, fruit Liqueurs, and an egg created at the infamous Bar Florida in Havana.
This hybrid gem is a premium tribute to a truly iconic spirit who shattered all conventions to become “The Toast of Paris.”
Du Nord Distillery
In 2013, Chris Montana started his family business with his partner Shanelle. He became the first Black person to own a microdistillery in the entire United States, also becoming the first Person of Color to serve as president of the American Craft Spirits Association for two consecutive years before eventually stepping down. This pioneering micro-distillery specializes in Whiskey, Vodka, Liqueurs, and artisan Gins. Today, Du Nord is an award-winning business that prides itself on sustainable practices and connecting local Spirit lovers with the craft. Du Nord Spirits are each made with non-GMO corn from the Evens’ farm, their L'etoile Vodka and Fitzgerald Gin bringing home gold medals.
A prominent advocate of diversity in the craft community, Du Nord actively recruits the underrepresented communities of women and racial minorities to join the Du Nord family. Du Nord, situated in South Minneapolis less than half a mile from Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct, found themselves at the epicenter of the recent conflicts and was severely damaged during the Minneapolis riots.
Their response was nothing short of remarkable. Montana and his team showed resilience and compassion, transforming the distillery into a community donation center, raising over $200,000 for local businesses affected by the riots.
HH Bespoke Spirits
This Spirits brand is the brainchild of a legendary family of culture creators. The retail extension of 5001 Flavors, a bespoke apparel company creating looks for celebrities, recording artists, and sports stars for over 20 years, HH Bespoke Spirits was launched in Fall 2018, drawing inspiration from the rich cultural history and distinctive style of the Harlem Renaissance.
The result is a curated collection of definitive expressions of Spirits proudly distilled and distributed by AstraLuna Brands of Medfield, MA. Their delicious Harlem Haberdashery Bespoke Gin is a remix of a traditional London Dry style Gin, with moderate juniper flavors up front, balanced by an infusion of lavender, rosehip, and plum.
Ten To One Rum
Born in Trinidad, Marc Farrell left his Caribbean home to study chemical engineering at MIT…at the ripe age of 16. He then went on to get a Masters in Philosophy from Cambridge and an MBA from none other than Harvard School of Business. At the age of thirty-three, he became the youngest VP in Starbucks history. Now he is stepping out on his newest venture: creating a contemporary, elevated Rum experience.
Launched in 2019, Ten To One Rum is a tribute to his native roots. Designed for premium cocktails Ten To One White Rum is a compelling blend of column still Rum from the Dominican Republic and high ester pot still Rum from Jamaica. The result is a beautiful 90 proof Spirit.
Ten To One Dark Rum is a deeply complex blend of premium Rums from across the Caribbean — eight-year-old column still Rums from Barbados and the Dominican Republic, pot still Rum from Jamaica, and Trinidad Rum. The resultant blend is further aged in ex-Bourbon casks.
In 2016 a woman named Fawn Weaver set out to bring to light the legendary story of the greatest Whiskey maker the world never knew: the first-known African-American master distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green. The rest was quite literally history.
Nathan Green (his family and friends called him Uncle Nearest) was born into slavery, working on Reverend Call’s farm (and operating a Whiskey still in his free time). Nearest is credited for perfecting the Lincoln County Process – a process that literally defines Tennessee Whiskey, and originated in West Africa. In the 1850s, he began working with an orphan boy named Jack Daniel (yes, THE Jack) and taught him how to make Whiskey.
Green was eventually hired as the first-ever master distiller for Jack Daniel's Distillery. But the Jack Daniel’s brand never officially acknowledged Nearest’s role until 2016, when Fawn Weaver intervened. Since then she has kept his legacy alive through Whiskey. Uncle Nearest Whiskey was founded in 2017 by Weaver and has earned over 40 awards and accolades, including an incredible “World’s Best” at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards. Read more about Green’s story and Uncle Nearest Whiskey here (and learn more about the Jack Daniel's and Uncle Nearest Advancement Initiative).
Ten To One Uncle Nearest Bourbon Cask Finish Caribbean Dark Rum
If you join the inspiring stories of Ten To One Rum and Uncle Nearest Whiskey, you get an exciting collab and a new tale of a power team that is reclaiming history and forging a new future together - and a unique and gorgeous Whiskey-finished Dark Rum!
Ten To One Uncle Nearest Bourbon Cask Finish Caribbean Dark Rum's solid gold hue announces an exotic and complex nose, translating beautifully into a layered and alluring palate.
Your time with this gem starts with an exotic and complex nose with notes of acacia honey, spiced apple, banana nut loaf, walnut oil, white peppercorn, and cranberries. It's followed by a rich and layered palate with notes of Crème Brûlée, black currant, toasted pecan, and charred wood, all wrapping up with a mellow and spicy finish.
Loft & Bear
Loft & Bear Vodka was founded by Paul Ryan Elliot in 2014, in a loft in downtown LA...hence the name: Loft & Bear.
Their gold standard approach to sustainability is a modern marvel. They quadruple distill their Vodka exclusively in downtown Los Angeles from Soft Organic Winter Wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested mid-summer, and slightly alkaline 100% pure California mountain spring water. Loft & Bear Vodka has earned countless accolades for its citrus-forward character. 94 points “Outstanding” from the Tasting Panel.
Rams & Parrots
This special Whiskey was inspired by a tasty family tradition. Rams & Parrots was founded in the heart of Baltimore by three childhood friends Rod, Regg and Will. Friends for over 3 decades they decided to create a Whiskey as an homage to an old family recipe “Holy Water” which was enjoyed by Rod’s family for years, served as a special drink, called “Dot Dot’s Punch.”
With the help of Jon, a master distiller, the group created their signature recipe, Ram’s & Parrots American Whiskey: a premium small-batch Bourbon. The idea for the name Ram’s & Parrots is one of poetic symbolism. The African Grey Parrot is often recognized as one of the smartest animals in the world. And the Ram throughout history has represented determination, strength, and leadership.
Shadow Ridge Spirit Distillery, is a Veteran-Owned private label specializing in small batch grain to glass, small-batch, hand crafted Spirits distilled from premium ingredients. Shadow Ridge Whiskeys are 100 percent aged in American White Oak barrels.
Their line currently includes Bourbon, Rye, a Peated Single Malt, and an American Single Malt, featuring unique, specialty grain bills, aged in charred oak barrels to enhance the vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon flavors. Their special small-batch distilling methods highlight the various grain and yeast flavor profiles, adding a depth of complexity to Shadow Ridge Whiskeys.
Greenwood Whiskey is a premium Rye Whiskey that symbolizes a celebration of community, success, entrepreneurship, & excellence.
This African American owned brand is inspired by the Historic Greenwood District neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma – also known as, “Black Wall Street” a community home to hundreds of African-American-owned businesses. The Historic Greenwood District was the largest concentration in the US during a time when African Americans had so few rights or resources.
Greenwood Whiskey is a celebration of “Black Wall Street” and the legacy of visionary entrepreneurs, combining natural ingredients and bold flavors. Russet color, with rich smoky caramel and vanilla notes. The palate features hints of butterscotch, sweet cherry wood, and a touch of citrus. Their unique Whiskey is a premium rye blend bottled at 42% ABV.
St Cloud Bourbon
Crafted by Ray Walker, Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbons are produced traditionally using a hybrid pot-column still and bottled at cask strength, unfiltered, and produced on a “micro-scale,” using proprietary ingredients and aged in new French Limousin oak.
With Walker’s previous Wine-making experience he’s brought his craft and tradition to the Whiskey scene, bringing a unique vision to the world of Kentucky Bourbons. Saint Cloud is a passion project bridging the connection to Ray’s family which has roots that date all the way back to Kentucky in the early nineteenth century.
This award-winning artisan distillery in Northwest Indiana was founded by Drew Fox. 18th Street Distillery first opened its doors on June 8, 2018. They take an unhurried traditional approach to the production of each Spirit, using only the highest quality ingredients, to make the finest products.
They source Beer products (2-row and 6-row barley) from 18th Street’s sister brewery to distill their high-quality Spirit. The same rye used for brewing and distilling is also used to produce their current line of award-winning Spirits including their flavorful Rye Whiskey, Gin, Rum distilled from sugarcane and blackstrap molasses, the bold Bourbon, Vodka and their distinctive Moonshine distilled from corn, rye, and malted barley.
Founded by Micah McFarlane in 2012, Revel Spirits has been handcrafting super-premium expressions from 100% Pure Agave grown in mineral-rich soil. Their hand-picked agave results in truly unique ultra-premium, ultra-smooth Tequilas.
The Impact of the Black Community on the Spirits Industry
The Black community has had a tremendous impact on the Spirits industry and their stories must be addressed, shared, and amplified. From the untold stories of Uncle Nearest, or the Harlem Whiskey Riots, to the sinister history of slavery in the Rum industry. African Americans have long been a critical piece in the Spirits industry from the very start, building rickhouses, harvesting sugar cane, creating Whiskeys, playing many crucial parts but not given leadership roles.
Today, there are over 160 Black-owned brands, and spreading awareness of their existence and stories is vital to their success. There's a vast and exciting world of flavors waiting to be explored, appreciated, and celebrated - and that's the heart of our Club's philosophy of trying something new every day.
Your Voice Matters
We have always trusted our Members’ & followers’ opinions, from creating our Cognac Frérot, to the more recent crowd-blending of the new WhistlePig expression. This time around, the discussion is more important than ever. Your input is an invaluable tool as we move forward. How are you working to enact change? How do you see Flaviar playing a role in the movement? Feel free to reach out to us at: [email protected] We’d love to hear from you. We’re here to listen.
Cover photo: Facebook: HH Bespoke Spirits