Family Forest Blog

Global Spirits Company Donates $500,000 to Support White Oak Initiative & America’s White Oak Forests

American Forest Foundation

September 9, 2021

Gift Celebrating Launch of Beam Suntory’s Yamazaki 55 Will Help Ensure Availability of White Oak Whisky Barrels, Protection of Wildlife Habitat & Support for Local Economies

WASHINGTON, DC (September 9, 2021)—The White Oak Initiative, a diverse coalition of partners committed to the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak forests, today announced that it will receive a $500,000 donation from Beam Suntory’s Yamazaki brand as the company celebrates the limited release of Yamazaki 55, its 55-year-old Japanese single malt whisky.

The donation, which supports Beam Suntory’s Proof Positive sustainability strategy, represents $5,000 for every bottle of Yamazaki 55 sold this year and is meant to honor the forests that produced the casks in which components of this whisky were aged.

“Beam Suntory’s generous donation and partnership is a great example of the collaboration we are seeing in the spirits industry and across the board between end users of wood products and those that cultivate our forests,” said Melissa Moeller, director of the White Oak Initiative at the American Forest Foundation.

Founded by the University of Kentucky, the DendriFund and the American Forest Foundation, the White Oak Initiative has grown to a broad coalition between the spirits industry, conservation organizations, universities and forest products companies to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak forests. American white oak is a cornerstone tree species of the eastern United States, occupying more than 100 million acres of land. Not only vital for wildlife, white oak is the most commercially important timber oak, necessary for industries such as furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and wine and spirits. Without collective action now, the many benefits of these iconic trees could be lost to inadequate management, insects, disease and changing climate conditions.

“We support the White Oak Initiative because we are passionate about healthy forests and are committed to helping preserve the many benefits that American white oak forests provide,” Beam Suntory President & CEO Albert Baladi said. “Yamazaki 55 is an exceptional and unprecedented whisky that is carefully crafted at the Yamazaki Distillery, which is surrounded by nature and aged partially in American oak casks. We are proud to honor Suntory’s legacy, both as the pioneer of Japanese whisky and with our longstanding commitment of giving back to society.”

The $500,000 donation will support the White Oak Initiative’s work related to public education, technical assistance for foresters and loggers, testing and reporting, and on-the-ground activities such as improving forest management, site preparation work, and other important actions around white oak regeneration and sustainability.

About the White Oak Initiative

Founded in 2017 by the University of Kentucky, the DendriFund and the American Forest Foundation, the White Oak Initiative brings together industries, universities, state and federal agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations and trade associations that are committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak forests as well as the economic, social and environmental benefits they provide.

About the American Forest Foundation 

The American Forest Foundation is a national conservation organization that works with a broad coalition of partners to empower family forest owners to make a meaningful conservation impact around carbon sequestration, clean water, wildlife protection, wildfire reduction, sustainable wood supplies and support for rural economies. Because a large portion of America's white oak is located on family-owned forestland, the American Forest Foundation has taken on a leadership role in the management and activities of the White Oak Initiative.

American Forest Foundation

September 9, 2021

Related Articles

October 20, 2021

Family Forest Carbon Program Opens Enrollment Across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland

The American Forest Foundation and the Nature Conservancy announce expansion plans for their Family Forest Carbon Program, which empowers America’s rural family forest owners to improve forest health while addressing climate change.

Read More

October 14, 2021

Tackling Climate Change with Your Spare Change: A Collaborative Partnership with IvyCo

A new partnership between the American Forest Foundation and technology startup IvyCo gives family forest owners and others a new tool to help increase the potential for their forests as a natural climate solution.

Read More

October 5, 2021

Family Forest Owners Empowered to Address Climate Change with New Partnership between REI Co-op, the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy

REI commits to 6-year contract to purchase verified carbon credits from the Family Forest Carbon Program, an innovative and impact-focused forest carbon project.

Read More