How this Kentucky woman started a bourbon brand while pregnant and made history

Abu Mubarik August 23, 2023
Brittany Penny is Kentucky's first Black woman founder and CEO of a bourbon brand. Photo: Linkedin/Brittany Penny

Kentucky is widely known for its variety of bourbons. However, until recently, there was no record of a black woman being behind the establishment of a bourbon company in the area. Brittany Penny, who is Kentucky’s first Black woman founder and CEO of a bourbon brand, is behind 2 Cents Inc., which runs the brand IX Bourbon Whiskey.

Penny’s business started when she was pregnant with her first child in 2020. According to her, she would catch the aromas of her husband’s bourbon collection and make notes. It eventually formed a base for her to start her own bourbon brand.

“The pregnancy nose is an amazing feature. Throughout my first pregnancy amid the COVID pandemic, I would catch the aromas of my husband’s bourbon collection and pick up different notes of apricot, vanilla, caramel, and many other flavor profiles. Without realizing it, I was doing the research necessary to start my own bourbon brand,” she told Cuisine Noir.

Born and raised in Louisville, Penny has always been a lover of bourbon. Her father was a connoisseur, which gave her an extensive collection and knowledge about bourbon. And when became curious about her husband’s bourbon collection during her pregnancy, she did not hesitate.

She launched her brand with her husband’s assistance and has since taken the industry by storm. As a trailblazer, Penny is not only becoming influential in a field where people who look like her are scarce but she is rubbing shoulders with white males who dominate the field.

Prior to venturing into the bourbon industry, she held several positions as executive assistant, marketing specialist, and social media manager.

“I wanted to do something that made me happy. I was in a job where I wasn’t really being fulfilled, so I wanted to do something that I loved and that I was passionate about. My husband assisted with the operational set-up where I focused on the IX Bourbon experience, crafting aromas and flavor profiles,” she noted.

Penny said her new venture has pushed her to learn to be comfortable in an industry outside her comfort zone. According to her, it has helped her build confidence in spaces where she is the only person of color. Her aim now is to reach more people in Kentucky with her wine before going beyond the state in the next few years.

It is also her wish that 2 Cents be the next in a line of family-run bourbon businesses, she told WHAS11

“Kind of like Brown-Forman does, Jack Daniels does, Heaven Hill, they have family owned companies and that’s what I was going for too,” she said. “To build that generational wealth.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 23, 2023

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