The LEE Initiative Partners with Maker’s Mark® to Release “CommUNITY Batch” Bourbon with 100% of Proceeds Supporting the Hospitality Industry

November 16, 2020

Blending Maker’s Mark Private Selection Recipes from 30+ Restaurants, Bars and Retailers Across the Country, the First-of-its-kind Bourbon Will Launch with Virtual Events on Giving Tuesday


LOUISVILLE, Ky (November 16, 2020) – The LEE Initiative, in partnership with Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, today announced the launch of the limited-edition “CommUNITY Batch,” a special release bourbon created exclusively 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. 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. Specific event information and details on the bourbon can be found at

When the Coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, The LEE Initiative (Let’s Empower Employment), 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 Edward Lee, James Beard Award Winning author, restaurateur, chef and founder of the LEE Initiative. “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 (Dec. 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:

  • 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.
  • The resulting characteristics of the CommUNITY Batch include:

o   Stave Contributions: P2 (13%), CU (24%), 46 (20%), Mo (27%) and SP (16%)

o   Proof: 107.7

o   Aroma: Caramel and almond up front with dark fruits, cherry, chocolate and very subtle spice

o   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.

“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.”


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 – please visit for additional details on how to get a bottle.

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Media Contacts:

The LEE Initiative // Wagstaff: Collis Hillebrand
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 502-741-7351

Maker’s Mark // Doe-Anderson PR: Bob Lauder
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 502-403-9976

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About The LEE Initiative

The LEE (Let’s Empower Employment) Initiative, founded in 2017 by Lindsey Ofcacek and Edward Lee, aims to address issues of equality and diversity in the restaurant industry by implementing programs to directly support people in hospitality. The first initiative was the Women Chefs in Kentucky program which provides mentorship opportunities to female chefs in Kentucky. In response to massive layoffs in the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak nationwide The LEE Initiative, in partnership with Maker’s Mark, launched The Restaurant Workers Relief Program. This program started on Tuesday, March 17 out of the catering kitchen of Lee’s restaurant, 610 Magnolia, and has since expanded to include services offered out of 19 kitchens nationwide, and 500,000 meals served thus far. As restaurants start to reopen, The LEE Initiative launched the Restaurant Reboot Relief Program to help fix the supply chain, committing to invest $1 million into sustainable farms. Farms will then give that product to restaurant partners as the restaurants reopen. Following the death of Chef David McAtee, The LEE Initiative launched McAtee Community Kitchen, which serves fresh meals and groceries to families in Louisville’s Shelby Park, Smoketown and West End neighborhoods. For more information, please visit


About Maker’s Mark® Bourbon

In 1953, in Loretto, Ky., Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small batches, using soft red winter wheat to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency and, finally, aged each barrel to taste. Bill Samuels, Sr., transformed bourbon from a “commodity” into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker’s Mark® continues to make its bourbon the same way. In recent years, Maker’s Mark has introduced thoughtful, super-premium innovations to its portfolio, including Maker’s Mark 46®, Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength and Maker’s Mark® Private Selection, the brand’s first-ever custom barrel program. For more information, visit


Maker’s Mark® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, 45% Alc./Vol. ©2020 Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc., Loretto, KY.

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