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KDA receives $20,000 to boost diversity

Bourbon brands Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve have donated US$20,000 to trade body the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) to increase diversity in the spirits industry.

The Lifting Spirits Foundation is a non-profit, launched in 2020

The donation is for KDA’s Lifting Spirits Foundation, formed in 2020 with a goal to increase diversity in distilled spirits by funding education credits for Black students, women, people of colour, the LGBTQIA+ community.

The education is provided for underrepresented students enrolled in Bourbon-related certification courses, at the University of Louisville, the University of Kentucky, and Kentucky State University.

“‘Reserved for all’ is more than a slogan for Russell’s Reserve – it’s a philosophy that drives us,” said JoAnn Street, Wild Turkey Distilling Co portfolio ambassador.

“We are committed to making the Bourbon industry a more welcoming and inclusive place. Through the work that the KDA is doing with the Lifting Spirits Foundation, we are seeing that happen in real time, and we are proud to continue our relationship in building a community of rising leaders who truly represent a shining light in the industry’s bright future.”

Non-profit Lifting Spirits Foundation works with KDA members to educate the public about the commonwealth’s distilled spirits industry through charitable, educational, literary, and scientific research efforts.

“Bourbon is more than what we do, it’s a part of who we are as Kentuckians. Our scholarship aims to bring new voices, perspectives, and personalities to the industry,” said Sara Barnes, director of industry responsibility and sustainability at KDA.

“Support from heritage brands like Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve allow us to grow this great programme and enact long-lasting change within our industry. We are thankful for their unwavering support.”

Russell’s Reserve and Wild Turkey, which are both produced by Campari Group, have also launched an internship programme to further ‘professional development’ for the Bourbon industry’s next generation.

Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar star Matthew McConaughey partnered with Wild Turkey in 2016, taking on the role of ‘chief storyteller’ for the brand. Two years later, he collaborated with Wild Turkey to launch Longbranch Bourbon.

Earlier this year, KDA hired the first director of its members services, Annie Franklin.

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