Bourbon is a huge business here in America and fans of Kentucky’s famed spirit span far and wide but now exists a pathway for Black folks who enjoy sipping whiskey of all sorts. Black Bourbon Society founder Samara B. Davis created a hub for fellow bourbon enthusiasts and looks to expand her operations in the years to come.
Ms. Davis took time out of her schedule to speak with CASSIUS regarding the founding of Black Bourbon Society (BBS), the spirits industry at large, and the wider goal to educate people about the many nuances of bourbon whiskey. We opened up the conversation to explore how she discovered a love for bourbon and how it expanded her worldview.
“I fell into it about five or six years ago and just learning about how best to enjoy bourbon whiskey, and I wanted to find a tribe to enjoy whiskey with,” Davis begins as she explains her early days with the spirit.
She continued, “At the same time, I was also producing and planning events so as I was looking for whiskey clubs and groups to join, I didn’t see many people who looked like me in these spaces. I also worked alongside several large brands that needed help in reaching markets they weren’t necessarily hitting, most especially consumers of color.”
Davis said she created BBS to “satisfy both needs” and create spaces for folks in the adult beverage industry to connect with others that share that cultural bond and a love of fine spirits. We asked Davis to explain why did it take so long for industry leaders to open their doors to Black imbibers and what will it take to continue breaking down the barriers.
“I created BBS for that reason, the lack of education and exposure. I wanted to build this community of African-American bourbon drinkers while realizing there is an educational component at play,” Davis explained. “I wanted them to understand the history of bourbon, how it’s made, how to read labels, developing a palate, and so forth.”
What makes BBS especially vital in Davis’ mission is how it has bonded its members from all over the country and across the globe via a shared love for the American whiskey style. With nearly 25,000 members in a private Facebook group, BBS also thrives as a membership-based collective of bourbon enthusiasts that travel together on the hunt for fine bourbons, gathering events in major metropolitan areas, and classes to bolster one’s love of the spirit.
“I really wanted this group to become conscious consumers, not just with educating but also throwing our support behind brands that understand that diversity in the industry is important,” Davis added.
Diversity is definitely key in Davis’ life, most evidently noted by way of her work with Diversity Distilled, a group that puts a focus on DEI strategy, consulting, and more. Davis serves on the executive team of Diversity Distilled alongside Armond Davis and Aaron Kendeall.
On Feb. 20 in New York, BBS and Jack Daniel’s worked in collaboration for the second portion of its Salon 7 Legacy Awards program, the first occurring in Atlanta on Feb. 6. Salon 7 is a reimagining of the salon gatherings that were popular during the heights of the Harlem Renaissance in the early 20th Century. The event honored seven local leaders in their respective fields who displayed a commitment to both their communities and the industry at large.
In the conclusion of our chat with the Chief Bourbon Enthusiast, as she’s also known, we couldn’t let Davis go without knowing what her favorite ways are to enjoy bourbon whiskey.
“Neat, no water, no ice,” Davis said with a laugh, but she did admit to enjoying a finely balanced Manhattan. A classic choice for a trailblazer within the spirits industry who is leading a dedicated charge for diversity across the board.
To learn more about Black Bourbon Society, click here.