The entrance to Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of the major players leading the charge to help tornado victims. (photo courtesy of the brand)

On Dec. 11, Western Kentucky took a direct hit from unseasonal tornadoes that devastated the town of Mayfield and other small communities within the storm’s 200-mile path of destruction. In response, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the Bourbon Crusaders charitable organization, and renowned curator Fred Minnick have pulled together a rather stunning fundraising effort.

Auctioning off donated collectible bottles, tasting experiences, private barrel selections, NFTs, accessories, and other high-end items, the Kentucky Bourbon Benefit has already managed to amass $1.5 million since the event kicked off on Dec. 16.

“I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support in recent days,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “I appreciate our signature Bourbon industry quickly stepping up to raise much-needed money for Kentucky families that have lost so much in this tragedy.”

Distillers, private collectors, and bourbon aficionados have dug deep into their inventories to supply the more than 400 lots on auction. All proceeds generated will go to the state’s official Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. 

Many other entities are also making their own additional contributions.  Beam Suntory has pledged $1 million to relief and recovery efforts.

Buffalo Trace Distillery and the Van Winkle family are partnering with Menish Productions to auction off a rare Pappy Van Winkle set and a complete Antique Collection flight, including a 2020 George T. Stagg. (Both are available for bidding here until Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.)

“The toll these tornadoes and severe weather took on our fellow Kentuckians and others in the Midwest and South is shocking,” said Mark Brown, Buffalo Trace CEO. “We hope our Bourbon community, who we know can be very generous, really shows its support and we’re able to raise unprecedented funds for Western Kentucky disaster relief.” 

If you want to get in on the large-scale Kentucky Bourbon Benefit bidding, you better hurry. The silent auction closes Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. Miss the deadline? You can still make a direct tax-deductible donation to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund here anytime.