The Bourbon Society of Baton Rouge is creating community and giving back

Photo by Collin Richie

Though we may be a ways away from Kentucky, Baton Rouge is inarguably a home to bourbon—and bourbon lovers.

The Bourbon Society of Baton Rouge, founded in 2015, is an almost 900 member-strong network of both amateur and adept aficionados of the sweet brown spirit. Members enjoy access to specialty bourbon releases and events like tastings, distillery tours and lots more.

One favorite tasting event among members is the “sample share,” where the society purchases specialty whiskeys straight from distilleries and portions them into 1-ounce sample bottles, which members purchase for a modest price and drink together in a virtual gathering where they share their takes on the selected spirit.

As for the “more,” this past month the Bourbon Society hosted a crawfish boil, complete with mint julep and bourbon lemonade refreshments, and a “Pre-Derby Ladies Night,” where female members were invited out to Painting and Pinot on Perkins Road to sip complimentary cocktails, learn about the bourbon-infused tradition of the Kentucky Derby and design and assemble their own derby-style fascinator hats.

And while the society’s vast membership first coalesced around such events and the simple desire to “hang out and talk about whiskey”—in the words of founder David Steele—its purpose quickly evolved.

“I wanted to try to do something more than just drinking bourbon,” Steele says. “And, doing these clubs, these events, I recognized that everyone else felt the same way.”

In May 2019, what started as a casual drinking club was incorporated into a 501(c)(7) organization, and the Bourbon Society of Baton Rouge took up the mission that has since become its primary directive: giving back.

To read the full take on how the society gives back to Baton Rouge, check out the full story from the May issue of our sister magazine, 225.