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Keeping Memories Alive: The Start of Bourbon Candle Company

Bourbon Candle Company recycling glass bottles
Bourbon Candle Company recycles empty wine, liquor, & bourbon bottles. They donate $0.25 to Semper Fi & Americas fund for every bourbon & whiskey bottle donated to their company.

Bourbon Candle Company® was Founded on Two Problems

"It's a passion of mine to solve problems. It's also a passion of mine to enjoy a glass of good bourbon at the end of the day," said Kevin Stafford. Bourbon Candle Company® a veteran and family-owned business, founded by Kevin and Rachel Stafford in 2019, set out a plan to tackle two problems. The first problem was a decline of glass recycling locations available to the general public across the United States. The second problem was an increase of counterfeiters trying to dupe consumers and connoisseurs with fake bottles of wine, liquor, and bourbon.

Their Solution: Upcycling Glass Bottles

"Upcycled glass" is the innovative transformation of discarded glass artifacts into novel, value-added creations, where the original material's inherent quality and texture are not just preserved but artistically elevated. Market Research Experts stated that "glass bottles are the preferred packaging choice for liquor due to their superior quality, non-reactive nature, and ability to preserve the taste and aroma of the beverage."

With glass recycling sites diminishing across the United States and specifically for alcohol consumers, the solution and mission at Bourbon Candle Company® "is to reduce glass waste by upcycling glass bottles into pieces of art, while giving back during the process."

"Our solution became a part of our company's name as we began transforming wine bottles, liquor bottles, and bourbon bottles into high quality upcycled candles," said Kevin Stafford.

Freddie Johnson's Words Inspired Kevin to Start

"So, do you really want to know the pinnacle point when we decided to start our business? Well one day, my dad, my brother, and I were watching a documentary called 'Neat' in my parents' living room. It was a rare occasion because the Military usually kept us apart throughout the years. Well, there is a part of the documentary where Freddie Johnson from Buffalo Trace spoke about the last time he, his brother, and his dad all got together.

It brings tears to my eyes now, so I couldn't describe the exact emotions that happened in that room. I remember it was silent, and the emotions were intense, but we were listening close to that T.V. But Freddie describes their last time all being together around a bottle of Pappy. He talks about a lesson his dad taught'em that day when he goes to put the cork back on the bottle.

His dad said 'There will always be old barrels of bourbon being made. He said look at me and look at your brother, we will be the fragile part of this whole thing, so never ever save old bottles of bourbon because they're meant to be enjoyed with friends and family at the moment.' I remember looking at the Buffalo Trace bottle my brother, my dad, and I were sharing, and I was like I'm making that bottle into a candle. I remember thinking after that, I wish I could make the bottle that they shared into candle. Fast forward, I went on a barrel pick to Buffalo Trace with Mammoth Liquors and all I wanted to do that day was to meet Freddie. Well, when we were done with our pick and walking back to the gift shop, Freddie was actually walking past us. I got to talk to him that day and let him know how much his words actually inspired me. Till this day, Freddie has a lot to do with the start of Bourbon Candle Company. He didn't know it at the time, but his words definitely caused me to start it without looking back. I have a picture framed of that day I met Freddie, its signed by him with very wise words... Making Memories! Freddie Johnson 3rd Gen."

Freddie Johnson, Kevin Stafford, and Bourbon Candle Company's first candle made
Framed autographed picture of Kevin Stafford (left) and Freddie Johnson (right) behind Bourbon Candle Company's first candle made autographed by Kevin Stafford.

From Idea to Reality: Bourbon Candle Co. Reduces Glass Waste.

Today, Bourbon Candle Company doesn't fall short on the mission they set out to accomplish. With around 40,000 bottles they currently have in their warehouse and storage facilities, this just brazes the tip of what they have reduced in glass waste for the distilled spirits industry since 2019.

In order for Bourbon Candle Company to retrieve these recycled glass bottles, they had to take initiative and set up glass bottle drop-off locations with trusted local businesses around Kentucky. To find local drop-off locations for Bourbon Candle Company you can visit their website here.

Many bottles they recycle and upcycle, are for Distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee. When you go on a tour or tasting, the bottles that are poured into your glass, are recycled by Bourbon Candle Company and sold in that distillery's gift shop as high quality upcycled candles. So, if you're ever exploring the vast history that Kentucky distilleries have to offer, keep an eye-out for Bourbon Candle Company's upcycled candles in the gift shops of those distilleries that care about Our mission!


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