Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea as a day to encourage people to do good. Nine years later and in our second year of this horrific Covid-19 pandemic the need for people to do good is greater than ever. Giving Tuesday is now an independent nonprofit and a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.
When the pandemic swept the nation and shutdowns took place, The LEE Initiative (Let’s Empower Employment) and Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky stepped in last year. The LEE Initiative, with support from Maker’s Mark, supported the food, beverage, and hospitality industry as a whole with freshly cooked meals, much needed supplies, resources and more, with 19 relief kitchens established across the country. It was last year that this collaboration also spawned the first ever ‘CommUNITY Batch’ bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon to support Giving Tuesday.
What is the ‘CommUNITY Batch’?
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This limited-edition “CommUNITY Batch,” No. 2 is a special release Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that was created with a goal to raise $500,000 to support trade and hospitality partners across the country. This unique bourbon expression was created by blending Maker’s Mark Private Selection barrels from more than 40+ whisky clubs from across the United States and one in the United Kingdom. The limited time offering will be available at select events and opportunities across the country, with 100% of bottle proceeds benefiting The LEE Initiative in its mission to support trade and hospitality partners around the country and create a more diverse and equitable restaurant industry.
2020 CommUNITY Batch Bottle Generated More Than $2 Million
The 2020 CommUNITY Batch goal was similar to this year. In the end, the expectations were far exceeded with some additional donations made on behalf of the efforts that netted out more than $2 million for restaurant relief.
As the country’s interest in whisky has continued to grow, Whisky Clubs have become integral to the ever growing spirits community as platforms to share thoughts, opinions, experiences, and support for likeminded individuals in the space.
The 2021 bottling was created by multiple palates from across the country. By combining the stave profiles of the 40+ whiskey club Private Selection barrels, this limited release reflects the remarkable strength – and distinct taste profile – of each community. The result is an exquisite expression that is truly made by the community, for the community.
“Our second bottling of CommUNITY Batch Bourbon with Maker’s Mark is monumental because like any community, it takes time to build trust, loyalty and kinship,” said Edward Lee, James Beard Award Winning author, restaurateur, chef and founder of the LEE Initiative. “We have that with Maker’s Mark, and we are building that relationship with our many supporters who love to follow our evolving programs at The LEE Initiative while drinking amazing bourbon along the journey.”
What’s in the 2021 Maker’s Mark ‘CommUNITY Batch’
To create the CommUNITY Batch, Maker’s Mark tapped 40+ whisky clubs who are equally passionate about whisky and the hospitality industry. Lending their expert palates, these aficionados specially crafted and shared their Maker’s Mark Private Selection bourbon recipes to create this truly one-of-a-kind limited release.
One of those 40+ whisky clubs included many whiskey writers from Kentucky. Maker’s Mark invited writers to the newly opened Private Selection room that sits on the Maker’s limestone-filtered 10-acre spring-fed lake above the distillery. The lake provides all the water used in the distillation process for Maker’s. Private Selection tastings now take place at the original location inside the Maker’s Mark Whiskey Cellar and inside the pavilion like structure that sits on the banks of the lake.
First, Maker’s Mark created individual barrels of Private Selection Bourbon by taking fully matured cask strength Maker’s Mark and finishing it with each partner’s unique combination of ten-barrel staves for an additional nine weeks in the Maker’s Mark Cellar.
Once finished, the whisky from the barrels was blended and filled back into the barrels to rest for an additional five weeks to allow the subtle nuances of the custom bourbon to properly integrate.
Stave Contributions for the 2021 Batch
All combined, there are 1,001 different stave combination possibilities. Here is a breakdown of the staves used for this batch.
- 18% P2 – Baked American Pure 2
P2 is made from American oak and is the first stave sampled in the program. It adds notes of brown sugar, vanilla, caramel and spice.
- 22% Cu – Seared French Cuvée
Cu is the next in the tasting order. Cu is made from French oak that’s ridge-cut and seared with infrared heat. It gives off toasty notes of oak and caramel.
- 17% 46 – Maker’s Mark 46
46 is the one used to finish Maker’s Mark 46. It’s made from seared French oak and delivers dried fruit, vanilla and spice. A barrel fitted with 10 of these staves would give you a cask-strength version of Maker’s Mark 46.
- 28% Mn – Roasted French Mendiant
Mn is French oak cooked on low in a convection oven. It adds pleasant traces of milk chocolate, nuts and dried dark fruit.
- 15% Sp – Toasted French Spice
SP stave, is also French oak that’s toasted in a convection oven, first at high heat and then low heat. Sp has a flavor profile of smoke, coumarin and spice.
Tasting notes provided by Maker’s Mark from the 2021 CommUNITY Batch include notes of cherry and subtle wood spice. Rich and balanced. Not too sweet, not too spicy. Even in tone. Pleasant and long finish where the subtle spice notes linger.
This years batch was bottled at 107.7 (53.85% ABV)
How to Score a Maker’s Mark ‘CommUNITY Batch’ Bottle
Beginning on #GivingTuesday, November 30, 2021, the Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch Bourbon will be available via LEE Initiative events in select cities where Maker’s Mark Private Selection partners are located. For interested individuals 21 years or older, suggested donations begin at $70.00 and vary by event, with additional details available at LEEInitiative.org.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to work alongside Chef Lee, Lindsey Ofcacek and their team on various philanthropic efforts, including opening 19 relief kitchen across the country amidst the pandemic,” said Rob Samuels, Chief Distillery Officer of Maker’s Mark. “At Maker’s Mark, we treasure the bonds we’ve made with trade and hospitality partners who love to share our bourbon as much as we do, which is especially true of the Whisky Clubs who participated in creating the 2021 CommUNITY Batch. Together with this whisky-loving community, we are proud to support The LEE Initiative and look forward to continuing our partnership to benefit and champion the industry.”
On Giving Tuesday the first Kentucky CommUNITY Batch bottles can be picked up at 613 W. Magnolia Avenue (across the street from 610 Magnolia) in Louisville. The cost is $100 per ticket and includes a BBQ box lunch for two prepared by the Women Culinary and Spirits Program mentees and one bottle of Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch 2021. Ticketholders can pick up their meal between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Giving Tuesday. Additional bottles are available as add-ons for $70 each.
The LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative was founded in 2017 by Lindsey Ofcacek and Edward Lee. It aims to address issues of equality and diversity in the restaurant industry by implementing programs to directly support people in the hospitality industry.
Information for specific events, which commence on #GivingTuesday, November 30, 2021, and details on the bourbon can be found at www.LEEInitiative.org.
If you have any trouble ordering the 2021 CommUNITY bottle, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.