Black Bourbon Society Is Drinking To Diversity

By Gabrielle Nicole Pharms | April 6, 2023

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Samara B. Davis, founder of Black Bourbon Society PHOTO BY @ELEY_PHOTO
Samara B. Davis, founder of Black Bourbon Society PHOTO BY @ELEY_PHOTO

The booming world of whiskey includes people from various backgrounds and their wide range of palates—and the numbers prove it. According to studies conducted by the Statista Research Department, last year’s whiskey market in America was worth $17 billion. Yet despite these stats, the whiskey industry has historically catered to the age-old stereotype that only mature, white men drink the spirit.

However, within the last five years, there’s been a spike in awareness that female and Black imbibers enjoy whiskey—the two demographics that have been largely left out of the discussion. Among organizations helping to make the spirits industry, especially whiskey, more inclusive is the Black Bourbon Society.

“The whiskey industry needs a refresh. It’s time to retire the outdated nostalgia of ‘the good ol’ days’ and expand the marketing demographics of the bourbon industry,” says Samara B. Davis, founder of BBS. “This industry is not just for middle-aged white males. It’s ‘America’s native spirit.’ And as such, it should be marketed and inclusive to all demographics, including African Americans, women and people from all gender and sexual identities.”

BBS was founded in 2016 to bridge the gap between the spirits industry and Black bourbon enthusiasts through their social media platforms, brand-partnered events and exclusive excursions. Rivers started BBS because of her passion for bourbon. She quickly became immersed in learning more about the spirit while also enjoying it with other people like her, she mentions. “I searched for groups but didn’t find any that spoke to who I was, so I created the group that I desired to see, and the rest is ever-evolving history,” Davis says.

The BBS membership is open to everyone who enjoys premium spirits and is interested in gaining a deeper appreciation for bourbon. Throughout the years, BBS has partnered with major brands and curated events, such as Jim Beam and The Open Door Tour and The Black Manhattan Project, sponsored by Michter’s. Moreover, the society has a long-standing relationship with Maker’s Mark and has produced two award-winning Private Selections. They’ve also worked with Pinhook and WhistlePig to curate bourbon blends and bourbon-infused products.

Since starting BBS, Davis has expanded with the launch of Society Marketing Group. SMG now handles all experiential marketing campaigns, while BBS continues to focus on building its audience and membership base. Later this year, BBS will welcome over 250 bourbon lovers to Bourbon Boule, its national meetup in bourbon hot spot Louisville, Ky., over Labor Day weekend. It will feature bourbon educational programming and exclusive distillery experiences.

Thankfully, BBS is leading the charge in diversity in whiskey and will no doubt continue to grow yet stay true to its purpose. Davis states, “We are looking to give this industry a major face-lift. There’s a way to acknowledge bourbon’s rich heritage while making it relative to today’s society.”