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BY Abu Mubarik, 10:30am February 20, 2023,

This is how Timothy Irving Jr. turned his family’s illicit whiskey-making into a successful spirit brand

Timothy Irving Jr. is the founder of The Original Irving Whiskey. Photo: theoriginalirvingwhiskey.com

Meet Timothy Irving Jr., the founder of The Original Irving Whiskey who was inspired to start his own spirit brand after learning of his family’s history of making moonshine (illicit whiskey). 

His family grew up in rural Georgia where opportunities were few for Black people. To provide for the family, his uncle began making and selling moonshine after the demise of their grandfather.

“I wanted to create a spirit brand that pays homage to my family’s name which is why the brand is called The Original Irving Whiskey. It took a lot of sacrifice, failures, and money to get to where I am at today. Though it has been a tedious and challenging process, I am happy that I did not allow self-doubt to hold me back,” Irving told Voyage ATL.

For his first product, Irving released a straight bourbon whiskey that was aged for a little over two years using traditional bourbon barreling methods. According to him, what sets his brand apart from others is what it does just before bottling its products.

“We use a special filtration process that places emphasis on the sweet notes of vanilla and caramel to create a truly enjoyable experience. A compliment that we have consistently heard from our customers is how tasty and smooth it is despite it being bottled at 90 proof,” he noted.

Black-owned spirit brands and distilleries are making waves recently. This was almost impossible some 10 years ago as there were few spirit brands that were owned by Black people. The America Craft Spirits Association told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that in 2010, there were fewer than 100 craft distilleries. Currently, there are about 2,300 but fewer than 50 are minority-owned, it said.

Irving’s journey in the wine industry has not been smooth sailing. Knowing his background and the struggle of Blacks in general to keep their businesses, he was not oblivious to the challenges that awaited him.

“I haven’t had anyone to guide me in the process. Because of this, I have had to learn along the way, and there have been times I have made mistakes,” he told Voyage ATL.

In his recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he also noted that trying to break into the big distributors and gaining their respect has been challenging. And Irving is convinced the color of his skin plays a big part in these challenges. “It’s a little bit of a challenge to prove ourselves. We just want the opportunity,” said Irving.

He credits his wife for how far he has come in his entrepreneurial journey. He told ShoutoutAtlanta that his wife has been supportive throughout the process and even serves as his consultant when it comes to advertising as that is her profession.

On the brand’s website, The Original Irving Straight Bourbon Whiskey is described as providing “an easy and enjoyable drink experience.” It continues, “The nose is cherries and dark chocolate followed with a taste of caramel, oak and vanilla with a warm and slightly sweet finish.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 21, 2023


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