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Unique bourbon created for ALS charity

Heaven Hill Distilleries has announced a project to raise funds for The ALS Association in honour of Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam, who was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Entitled Master Distillers’ Unity, the project will create a never-before-seen blending of bourbon from all of the major Kentucky heritage distilleries packaged in a beautiful crystal two-bottle decanter set which will be offered at Bonham’s Whisky Cognac and Rare Spirits auction in New York City on October 13.

To help craft the packaging for this special ALS Association charitable endeavor, Heaven Hill Distilleries selected its long-time supply partner Saxco International, global packaging specialists for the liquor, wine, food and beer industries.

Larry Coomes, Saxco’s director of Midwest sales, worked closely with the Heaven Hill Distilleries design and marketing team to create a distinctive package to compliment and showcase the unique blend of some of the industry’s premier extra-aged bourbons. Saxco then enlisted the support of a number of its long-time supply partners to donate their services to help bring this package to life. The first of the primary design elements of the package, the cosmetic quality 750 ml glass decanters, were sourced and supplied from Raven’s Croft Crystal, of New York.           

To finish the decanters with a top shelf feel and appearance, Coomes went to work and helped create a unique classic design that featured a special engraved sterling silver top natural cork stopper with a pass through blue ribbon and neck wrap. To assist with the design and production of these special custom closures, Coomes turned to a long-time reliable and quality partner, Luis Ribeiro, of JC Ribeiro in Portugal. Working closely with Coomes, he utilized his creative skills and production expertise to bring this unique handsome closure concept to life.

With artwork developed by Heaven Hill Distilleries, a bold decorative design was sand blasted directly on to the decanters by Serigraphie Richford in Canada.

In addition to the two special crystal decanters, Saxco sourced and supplied 12 commemorative 750 ml bottles for the Kentucky distilleries that supplied aged Bourbon for the project. Those commemorative bottles were sourced through Anchor Hocking Company, of Lancaster, Ohio, and then sent to Serigraphie Richford for completion of the screen-printed decoration. Once again, JC Ribeiro was called upon to add the finishing touches to the package, providing a rich, dark wood top natural cork stopper to complete the overall design.

All of the proceeds from the auction of this one-time bottling will go toward the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund, established to raise money for research and patient care by The ALS Association in honor of the sixth generation master distiller of such renowned bourbon brands as Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Larceny.

Never before have all the major Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries—Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve—united to marry their products together. Since announcing that Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and Bourbon Hall of Fame charter member, Parker Beam was afflicted with ALS back in February, Heaven Hill has begun a series of initiatives to raise money for the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund. The Master Distillers’ Unity charity bottling is only one example of that effort.

Master Distillers’ Unity is comprised of barrel-proof, extra-aged Bourbons hand selected by master distillers Harlan Wheatley (Buffalo Trace) Jim Rutledge (Four Roses), Fred Noe (Jim Beam) Greg Davis (Maker’s Mark) Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey) and Chris Morris (Woodford Reserve), carefully married together with select Heaven Hill Bourbon. The blend was developed and approved by Parker Beam himself. The end result will be put into the special crystal decanters concealed inside a custom-made silk lined wooden box hand signed by all the participating master distillers and bottled unprocessed and unfiltered at 100 proof and 50%abv. A two-bottle set will be offered, one to drink, should the winning bidder choose, and one to keep.

Conceived as a way to demonstrate the industry’s united support against ALS and for 54-year veteran Parker Beam, Master Distiller’s Unity represents a coming together not only of the major Bourbon distilleries, but also partners like Saxco International, who have donated the high-end packaging expertise and materials and Bonham’s Auction House, who have agreed to waive all commissions on Master Distillers’ Unity offering.

“Parker Beam’s impact on Heaven Hill Distilleries, as well as the Bourbon industry in general, is beyond estimation,” noted Heaven Hill president Max L Shapira. “We have already begun a number of different projects within the company to raise money for ALS research and care, including the upcoming Fall edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection, but the Master Distillers’ Unity initiative is perhaps the best single example of how competing distilleries can come together for one of their own and join forces for a greater good. We are proud to have spearheaded this effort and proud of how our industry can collaborate for a great cause.”

10 September 2013 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor