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Malcolm Jenkins Joins New Liberty Distillery

The two-time Super Bowl Champion and former Philadelphia Eagles standout will create a new whisky from ingredients made entirely by Black and Brown farmers.

Malcolm Jenkins will join Millstone Spirits Group, the ownership arm of New Liberty Distillery, as a board member and investor.

The duo plans to develop a whisky that will have its ingredients sourced exclusively from Black and Brown farmers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the process to create the beverage is still ongoing.

“This is a collective effort from top to bottom. It’s not just about what hits the glass,” Jenkins told Boardroom. “It’s about this idea that just because we haven’t seen it done this way doesn’t mean that we can not do it.”

Currently, Jenkins and Robert Cassell, President and CEO at Millstone Spirits Group, are seeking out minority-owned farms that produce chemical-free, non-GMO grains to partner with. Ingredients within the whisky include barley, wheat, rye, and corn. 

Whiskey is an agricultural product made from cereal grains and part of a value-add supply chain. According to a release, a farmer who sells grains directly to a whiskey distillery profits far more than selling grains in bulk to an aggregator.

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The origin of Jenkins joining Millstone Spirits Group started with his love for whisky. Every year, his foundation hosts an event called Blitz, Bourbon, and Bowties where one of the evening’s auction items unlocks a trip to New Liberty Distillery and includes a tour of the company’s facility. After going through the tour a multitude of times, Jenkins started to brainstorm ideas about what it would look like for him to have his own spirit. He then reached out to Cassell, and the two began to talk things through.

“I know Rob and his ability to create products that do well and are high quality,” said Jenkins. “If we’re going to do a craft spirit, then we can be very particular about where we source the ingredients from.” 

When Jenkins asked Cassell and Millstone Spirits Group for the ingredients to be from a minority-owned farmer, they happily agreed. What they didn’t realize was the disparity in finding a farmer to do so.

Cassell said there is not one approach to finding what they’re looking for.

“Some of the searching is on websites, and some of it is asking anyone and their mother who is in agriculture if they know anyone. It’s very old school, pre-Google and phone call stuff. It is the most unsexy way to try to find people. The process just shows how important supporting this initiative can really be.”

Cassell has a very simple answer as to why Millstone Spirits Group brought Jenkins on in the first place: “I like him. I get along with him. You meet plenty of people, and it just works really well. I wish I had a better answer, but honestly, Malcolm is just a nice guy.”

Jenkins specifically wanted to announce this around the Juneteenth holiday because of its importance in Black history. 

The former safety won’t be the first athlete to enter into the spirits business. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Conor McGregor, David Beckham, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Charles Woodson are just a few household names within the alcoholic beverage world. 

And though the goal of any investment is to make money, Jenkins wants to use the story of the minority-owned farmer providing ingredients to inspire others. 

“I do want to be able to create those storytelling and cultural moments around the spirit and make sure that the brand reflects the quality of the beverage,” he said. “All of that is so that there is an experience that comes along this entire journey. It’s not just what’s in your glass. It is how it got there and the context behind it.”

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