The LEE Initiative has partnered with Maker’s Mark to release CommUNITY Batch Bourbon with 100% of the proceeds supporting the Hospitality Industry.

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 (listed below). This limited time offering is being made available at select events and opportunities across the USA, 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,” Edward Lee, 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 hosted virtual events that extended philanthropic efforts even further. Individuals aged 21 years or older who made a suggested donation towards a CommUNITY Batch bottle were invited to join a virtual tasting hosted by Chef Lee and Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation, Jane Bowie. For every attendee who joined, Maker’s Mark donated one meal through LEE Initiative efforts.

Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation, Jane Bowie

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:
    • 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.

“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,” 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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