Mark of Distinction – Maker’s Mark becomes Largest Distillery Globally to achieve “B-Corp” Status

Maker's Mark Distillery
Maker's Mark Distillery is the first in Kentucky for B-Corp title.

Dripping with goodness. Oozing with…well…a desire. A desire to make their surroundings a better place. To be a better partner to both humanity and Mother Earth. In both its internal working culture and the outside neighboring communities. To be better…

In a nutshell, this is my interpretation of being B-Corp certified.

Maker’s Mark Distillery in little ole Loretto, Kentucky, is the first and only such designated whiskey maker in all Bourbon Country to have this honor. Matter of fact, it is the largest distillery in the world to have this distinction. The plan to get there wasn’t cooked up six months ago in some corporate big city boardroom by checking off a few boxes and making a few charitable donations. It’s been years upon years of doing good and aiming for a higher purpose going all the way back to the founding family – The Samuels’.

“Since 1953, my grandparents instilled a sense of responsibility here at Maker’s Mark that started with the way we make our bourbon and extended to the way we impact the lives of our teams, our customers, our communities and our shared environment,” said Rob Samuels, 8th Generation Whisky Maker and Grandson of the Founders at Maker’s Mark. “That commitment to a higher purpose continues to live on, both here in Kentucky and beyond. I am so proud of our team’s tireless efforts that have earned us B Corp certification, and I’m even more excited to continue pioneering social and environmental initiatives that benefit the future of bourbon and greater good for all.” 

Family | Our Story | Maker's Mark
Bill Samuels Sr. and wife, Margie Samuels. Founders of Maker’s Mark Distillery.

If knowing what B-Corp is first hand wasn’t exactly natural for you, do not fret, I had to look it up:)…Here’s a good article I found explaining in more detail what B-Corp is and the underlining of the organization. Essentially, its accreditation for “for-profit” companies where the title is handled and awarded by a non-profit called “B-Lab”.

In the article’s words “B-Corp is to business what USDA Organic certification is to milk”.

Maker’s Mark achieved B Corp Certification by meeting and exceeding rigorous benchmarks across five categories of the B Impact Assessment: Community, Customers, Environment, Governance and Workers. Key efforts recognized as part of the scoring and certification include the following:  

  • Maker’s Mark is a spirits industry leader in its environmental practices, implementing innovative programs at its property on Star Hill Farm to preserve the natural resources that go into making its whisky and better the world around it. Initiatives include a distillery-wide zero landfill initiative; an onsite recycling program that is the first in the Marion County, Ky. and open to community members; the committed protection of the natural water sanctuary beginning with the watershed at Star Hill Farm; and the implementation of a solar array that powers the extensive Maker’s Mark warehouse complex. 
  • The bourbon producer is renowned for its community and philanthropic efforts, having invested millions of dollars in the hospitality industry, local Kentucky causes and the arts since its founding more than 65 years ago. In recent years, Maker’s Mark has acted as a principal partner to The LEE Initiative, which aims to address issues of equality and diversity in the restaurant industry.  During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Maker’s Mark and The LEE Initiative have worked together to feed more than 1.5 million hospitality workers in cities across the United States.  
  • Maker’s Mark has earned a decades-long reputation as an employer with workplace opportunities that exceed the industry standard. The company offers generous benefits and compensation, including the highest wages in its community; opportunities for advancement, job training and tuition assistance for employees; and six months paid maternity leave. 

B Corp Certification is just one step Maker’s Mark is taking to “Make Your Mark. Leave No Trace,” as part of its long-term environmentally-focused mission which couples bold, regenerative actions with comprehensive efforts to leave nothing harmful behind. Beyond the initiatives assessed as part of B Corp Certification, Maker’s Mark has introduced several innovative efforts to create a more sustainable future for the spirits industry, including the establishment of the world’s largest repository of American White Oak trees for research purposes; a first-of-its-kind genome mapping project of the American White Oak species; and regenerative farming practices to enrich soil for more robust and flavorful varieties of grain. 

Maker’s Mark joins more than 4,000 Certified B Corporations around the world – including Patagonia, Allbirds, Burton Snowboards and Sipsmith® Gin – that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. Aspiring to use the power of business to address social and environmental issues, B Corps become certified through rigorous verification by B Lab and undergo verification every three years. The Certification is designed to help consumers identify companies with a mission that align with their values.  

We’ll drink to that. Go Maker’s Mark and thank you for your dedication to be better and set a higher standard for the corporate horizon.

Maker’s wheat by Stillhouse. Courtesy Image