Maker's Mark Distillery - The LEE Initiative Partners with Maker’s to Release “CommUNITY Batch"

Throughout most of 2020 the nation and the world have experienced a phenomenon like no other. Everyday normalcies – trips to the grocery store, visits with family, food and beverage experiences, have been eradicated or modified in ways we would never expect. When the Coronavirus pandemic swept the nation and shut downs took place families and businesses were affected in ways never before seen. The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard during these trying times with unprecedented layoffs, furloughs and hundreds of business closing at an alarming rate.

Fast forward to today, The LEE Initiative (Let’s Empower Employment), Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky and their industry partners have come together to give back in a new and never-before seen way. Enter the Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch – a special release bourbon created by the community, for the community, to support trade and hospitality partners around the country.

This limited-edition “CommUNITY Batch,” a special release Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was created with a goal to raise $550,000 to support trade and hospitality partners across the country. A first of its kind, the unique bourbon expression was created by blending Maker’s Mark Private Selection barrels from 37 distinguished restaurants, bars and retailers across the country (full list below). 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 create a more diverse and equitable restaurant industry.

What is The LEE Initative – Let’s Empower Employment?

Chef Edward Lee
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Chef Edward Lee

When the Coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, The LEE Initiative, led by James Beard Award winning chef, author and restauranteur Edward Lee and Program Managing Director Lindsey Ofcacek, teamed up with Maker’s Mark to establish the Restaurant Workers Relief Program. Together, the initiative supported the food and beverage community by providing more than 500,000 freshly cooked meals and much needed supplies across 19 relief kitchens nationwide. The collaborative release of the CommUNITY Batch – a bourbon made by the community, for the community – continues the pair’s unrelenting commitment to helping the bar and restaurant community in a time of unprecedented need.

“To have the continued support of a partner like Maker’s Mark is inspiring to us, as we try to navigate this difficult time, and offer our community the means of both survival and growth,” said Chef and Founder of the LEE Initiative Edward Lee.

“The commitment of Maker’s Mark, and the willingness of their partners to step up and help, speaks volumes to the character of the brand and the people behind, and we are so thankful to partner with them on this incredible bourbon.”

On #GivingTuesday, December 1, 2020, The LEE Initiative and Maker’s Mark will host virtual events that extend philanthropic efforts even further. Individuals aged 21 years or older who make a suggested donation towards a CommUNITY Batch bottle will be invited to join a virtual tasting hosted by Chef Lee and Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation Jane Bowie. For every attendee who joins, Maker’s Mark will donate one meal through LEE Initiative efforts.

To create the CommUNITY Batch, Maker’s Mark tapped 37 industry partners who share their values to lend their bespoke Maker’s Mark Private Selection bourbon recipes for blending in this one-of-a-kind limited release.

Number One
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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.

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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.

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The resulting characteristics of the CommUNITY Batch include the following combination of staves, proof, aroma and taste.

  • Stave Contributions: P2 (13%), CU (24%), 46 (20%), Mo (27%) and SP (16%)
  • Proof: 107.7
  • Aroma: Caramel and almond up front with dark fruits, cherry, chocolate and very subtle spice
  • Taste: Round, dark with cured tobacco, heavy notes of dried fruit, like prunes or figs, along with soft, but dry baking spices. There’s a long, viscous finish that hangs around; it’s an incredible balance of astringent and oily. 

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“We’ve been honored to be able to help so many of our friends in the bar and restaurant industry over the past few months through our work with The LEE Initiative,” said Rob Samuels, Chief Distillery Officer of Maker’s Mark.

“When we asked our retail partners across the country if they’d be willing to donate their prized Private Selection recipes for this additional fundraising effort, we were blown away at the response. Seeing the community come together in this way has not only produced an exceptional bourbon, but a path towards providing the continued support that we’re fully committed to.”

What is Maker’s Mark Private Select Program?

Maker’s Mark create the Maker’s Private Select series in 2016 in a partnership with Independent Stave Company. Private Select allows customers to purchase a single barrel of fully matured cask strength Maker’s that has been aged an additional 9 weeks with a variety of 10 oak staves. Customers spend nearly a full day at the distillery tasting various combinations of bourbon finished with five different types of staves until they decide on their own personal taste profile. The math tells us there’s a total possible combination of 1,001 taste profiles that could be generated based on any combination of staves a customer chooses.

How to Purchase a Bottle of Maker’s Mark ‘CommUNITY Batch’ Bourbon

Maker’s Mark CommUNITY Batch Bourbon is available via The LEE Initiative in select cities where Maker’s Mark Private Selection partners are located. Suggested donation begins at $70.00. Those interested can visit for additional details on how to score a bottle. Click Restaurant/Bar or State to sort list.

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