A Black-owned distillery has announced the release of a new bourbon whiskey brand named after the first North American settlement that allowed people of African descent to legally live free.
Victor George Spirits, the adult beverage company that partnered with rapper Tramar “Flo Rida” Dillard as co-owner of its VG Vodka, has dedicated its new venture to combining history with its luxury brand.
In a May 27 press release VGS announced the expansion of its portfolio to include a new bourbon, Fort Mosé 1738.
The brand is owned by Victor George Harvey. “When I first got into this industry in 2007 there were very few if any, Black people with their own brands,” Harvey said in a prepared statement.
The whiskey is aged for four years and is described as having a smooth taste and combines corn, rye and malted barley to create the blend. Harvey posted on social about the drink after grabbing the first four bottles ever created. In a later post, he asked, “Do you know history?”
The history surrounding the product is fascinating, as the spirits’ namesake Fort Mosé is documented as the first municipality, in what is now known as the United States, to sanction Blacks to live without bondage legally in 1738, more than 125 years before slavery was abolished. Located in Florida, two miles north of St. Augustine, the town was started by some of the earliest creators of the “underground railroad” and included more than 100 freedom-seeking Africans in an area protected by the Spanish government.
The community thrived for decades, having its own governance structure and militia, but in 1763 when the English obtained rule over “all of La Florida” the citizens faced being enslaved and fled to Cuba to maintain their manumission.
According to the town’s website, “in the twentieth century, a highly dedicated team of archaeologists, historians, government leaders, and committed citizens helped restore Fort Mosé to its rightful place of honor.”
Now, Fort Mosé is not only recognized as a significant local, national and international historic landmark but is celebrated as a four-year-aged bourbon.
The legacy of the town fits in the mission of the company manufacturing the spirit. VGS will make Fort Mosé 1738 in its Palm Beach Distiller, a property it acquired in 2021. Harvey will now work alongside master distiller and founder of Palm Beach Distillery, Summer Piep to make the company’s next line of spirits.
In January, VGS closed a deal to purchase an equity stake in PBD, which is Florida’s first female-operated distillery founded by Piep and Jolyn Harvey.
“I knew I just didn’t want to put a name on something as a private label but wanted to create, make and bottle our own products,” he continued. “Our goal is to be the largest Black-owned spirits company in the world. To make history and be part of American history which is why we choose the names we do for our brands.”