Bulleit and American Forests

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The white oak holds a uniquely essential place in American life. Found throughout much of the Ozarks and the Appalachians, the tree is the bedrock of ecosystems far and wide. The large strong oak with its broad canopy provides habitat and food for hundreds of species, helps conserve water and absorbs carbon emissions. And its wood is used in everything from hardwood floors to barrels that nurture wine and spirits.

In October 2020, whiskey-maker Bulleit joined American Forests and committed to planting 1 million trees, with a focus on white oaks, over five years. The company will help restore about 2,000 acres of forest landscapes in several eastern states, preserving the forests’ ability to mitigate climate change, clean our water and provide a home for wildlife far into the future.

“At Bulleit, we believe now more than ever that businesses have a responsibility to our environment, our communities and our planet,” said Sophie Kelly, Sr. Vice President of Whiskey at Diageo North America. “We’re so excited about our partnership with American Forests, because it allows us to further our commitment to sustainability and help in the fight against climate by planting these trees, which will provide environmental benefits for years to come, including carbon sequestration, air purification, water conservation and vital wildlife habitat.”

Bulleit’s new partnership with American Forests is a continuation of the Bulleit Frontier Fund and the brand’s commitment to helping create a more sustainable future.

Over the past 100 years, white oaks have grown steadily and are the most prominent trees in eastern woods by volume. But the oak’s future is less certain. The number of white oak seedlings has rapidly declined due to a variety of factors, including too many deer, lack of natural and low-intensity wildfires, and repeated pest invasions.  Given it takes decade for oaks to mature, it’s critical to act now to maintain this important resource.

“White oak forests benefit every aspect of our lives, from providing clean air and water to the amazing smells and flavors in a glass of bourbon,” said Jad Daley, President and CEO of American Forests. “This great new partnership with Bulleit will give back to these forests by taking care of white oak forests for long-term health and resilience.”

As a Kentucky bourbon and whiskey-maker, Bulleit has a special relationship with the white oak. Without the tree, there could be no bourbon. That’s because by definition, bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels, which give the liquor its color and taste.

Bulleit also has committed to work toward tree equity and create green space in urban areas through American Forests’ Community ReLeaf program. Those efforts are set to kick off in 2021.