Fiddich Review Centre
Bourbon Whiskey

The untold history of black bourbon

Along with curating thoughtful whiskey tours, Ramos also hosts tastings. A few months ago, he showed up to Roshaunda Breedan’s house with a box of some of his favourite bottles. Breedan, a university professor whose research interests are in black history and culture, had called Ramos to host a date-night rye whiskey tasting for her and her partner. During the blind tasting, Breedan also received an unexpected history lesson. It was the first time she’d heard about the influences black Americans have had on the whiskey industry.

Growing up, Breedan was not a drinker. “In the Christian tradition, you don’t drink alcohol or talk about it,” she said, alluding to her upbringing in the region commonly known as the Bible Belt. “In learning that we have cultural roots in whiskey… that changes the game.”

No longer could it be some forbidden spirit outlawed by the church of her youth; whiskeys, for Breedan, meant something else entirely after her tasting with the Black Bourbon Guy. She was “drinking for appreciation of the process and the cultural history”, Breedan said. “It definitely elevated our view of whiskey and the art form.”

These days, the professor invites friends over, pulls out bottles and the tasting sheets Ramos had left her, and passes along the history of how black Americans influenced the spirit.

“It’s a way to keep the tradition going,” she said.

BBC.com’s World’s Table “smashes the kitchen ceiling” by changing the way the world thinks about food, through the past, present and future.

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