Bulleit is working with American forests to plant 1 million timber and increase city inexperienced house
In a new partnership with conservation company American Forests, Bulleit Frontier Whiskey adds one more component to its strategy of becoming the most sustainable brand in the industry – restoring the white oak forests required for bourbon casks.
Bulleit is committed to planting 1 million trees over the next five years, with an emphasis on white oak, and investing in ReLeaf, a program to improve green space and tree cover in urban areas.
The new commitments are an extension of the Bulleit Frontier Fund, which the brand launched earlier this year to support the bartending and hotel industries when Covid-19 bans hit these workers. Now, the mission of this fund is being expanded to include the environmental components that are critical to the sustainability of the industry and the communities it supports.
"Basically, you can't have bourbon without white oak," said Eric Sprague, American Forests vice president of Forest Conservation. By definition, whiskey can only turn into bourbon if it's matured in a brand new charred oak barrel.
These oak trees are also important in maintaining healthy forests, Sprague said.
"You can't have the carbon sequestration, habitat and clean water in our eastern forests either without white oak," he explained. "So it's a perfect match between our two organizations."
There is also a natural correlation between the conservation goals of this new initiative and the community support that led the brand to create the Bulleit Frontier Fund, according to Ed Bello, Bulleit's global brand director.
First, fighting climate change and deforestation is necessary to ensure the brand has what it needs to keep making its product. Second, consumers are aware of the risks climate change poses to all aspects of life and are demanding that brands take real action to mitigate those risks in every possible way, Bello said. Third, there are currently profound inequalities in access to a clean, safe environment and green space that sustainability initiatives must address as well.
By adding forest protection and “tree justice” to his mission – improved access to tree cover and green space for underserved urban areas – he interweaves his community support and protection goals and recognizes the interdependence of the two causes.
"It is an absolutely critical need for us to preserve our forests, to reforest them" and to combat climate change, said Bello.
"The more we can educate and sensitize people, the better we will all be," he said. "One tree at a time brings us there."
This is not the first time that Bulleit has prioritized sustainability in its business. The brand recently set a goal of making its Shelbyville, Kentucky distillery carbon neutral by 2030 and has been steadily reducing its footprint through efforts to conserve water and energy for years. Bulleit also announced earlier this year that it is opening a new distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky, which will be completely carbon neutral from the start.
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