The Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the Bourbon Crusaders charitable organization and bourbon curator Fred Minnick are joining forces again, this time to support recovery and rebuilding efforts from the catastrophic flooding in Eastern Kentucky.
The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit will feature an online auction of exclusive private barrel selection experiences, rare and vintage spirits, and unique tasting and tourism offerings from Kentucky’s signature distilling industry and hospitality and charitable partners.
“Kentucky’s Bourbon industry was there for our Western Kentucky families following the tornadoes, making the single largest donation to that relief fund – and now I am proud to see this industry stepping up once again to support our Eastern Kentucky families affected by the devastating flooding,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.
“I know this will make a tremendous impact for our people and I am grateful for the continued support.”
The partnership raised about $3.4 million in December during a similar auction to help ease suffering and restore hope for residents of Western Kentucky whose communities were ravaged by a tornado outbreak.
“We prayed that we’d never have to get this group together again in the face of disaster, but our friends, families and neighbors in Eastern Kentucky are braving through unspeakable tragedy and devastation,” KDA president Eric Gregory said. “It’s our duty as a signature industry to help.
“We were so impressed and humbled by the outpouring of support for Western Kentucky, and we hope that Bourbon aficionados and bidders show the same unparalleled generosity for the thousands of Eastern Kentucky residents who desperately need our assistance.”
The online auction will begin Thursday, Aug. 11, at noon EST and run until Sunday, Aug. 21, at 11 p.m. EST. Go to www.kybourbonbenefit.com to view auction items and bid. Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville is coordinating collection and distribution of donated items.
All proceeds will go directly to the state’s official Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund to assist those impacted by flooding. The website to learn more or make a donation is https://secure.kentucky.gov/FormServices/Finance/EKYFloodRelief.
RJ Sargent, president of The Bourbon Crusaders, said, “The core purpose of the Bourbon Crusaders is to make a difference in the lives of others, and once again the state we love so much needs our help.
“When the tornadoes hit Western Kentucky last year, we joined the KDA and Fred Minnick to help raise over $3 million from our generous supporters. Now with the recent flood disaster, many more Kentuckians have had their lives upended. We are joining forces again and hope our friends will step up, too. The Bourbon community sticks together.”
Minnick said, “I wish we didn’t have to do this. But the Bourbon community deeply feels for their neighbors in Eastern Kentucky, as we did for the Western Kentucky tornado victims, and we will do everything within our power to ease the situation for the flood survivors.
“This is about our friends, family and neighbors. We must be there for them.”
Chris Zaborowski, owner of Westport Whiskey & Wine, said, “We were heartbroken to see the devastation brought to Eastern Kentucky with the recent flooding. We knew we wanted to team up with the KDA again to help raise the much-needed funds for our fellow Kentuckians.”
Gregory said many KDA members are once again offering private barrel experiences where Bourbon enthusiasts can personally taste and select their own one-of-a-kind barrel. Each barrel usually yields 150-200 bottles depending on age and proof.
Whiskey aficionados with the Bourbon Crusaders are raiding their collections and donating dozens of limited edition and single barrel expressions of Bourbon, rye and Scotch whiskies. Distillers also are donating rare bottles that disappeared from retailer’s shelves long ago.
Minnick, a best-selling author and expert on all things Bourbon, is using his renowned distilling and celebrity connections to reap a treasure trove of bottles, private experiences and memorabilia to fulfill any whiskey lover’s dream.
Kentucky distillers also are sending tanker trucks and totes of fresh water to Eastern Kentucky, along with contributing thousands of dollars to organizations and relief funds involved in the cleanup and recovery.
“We deeply appreciate the support of all our member distilleries and friends with the Bourbon Crusaders, Fred Minnick and the team at Westport Whiskey & Wine for their partnership in helping our fellow Kentuckians,” Gregory said.
“Bourbon is America’s native spirit and Kentucky is its birthplace. It’s our honor and obligation to step up and help our fellow Kentuckians in times of need. Thank you to everyone who is helping in the recovery and rebuilding efforts, and please continue praying for our beloved Commonwealth and its people.”