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BarrelSince its founding in 2007, the mission of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship continues to be to educate tomorrow’s leaders on the arts of negotiation and compromise in the tradition of Kentucky’s greatest statesman, Henry Clay.

For the first time in 2015, a tradition started by Clay in the early 1800s is being revived in honor of “The Great Compromiser,” and to remind today’s youth and leadership of the importance of these values to today’s challenges. Clay famously shipped a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon to Washington D. C. for use in his diplomatic efforts on his many trips to the capital.

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and the Kentucky Distillers Association are joining forces to send a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon to Washington D. C. to be received by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and to display at a special reception for members of the U. S. Senate and Congress, as well as their staff and special guests.

“Re-enactment of Henry Clay’s delivery of a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon to Washington, and its reception by the Majority Leader, are meant to remind America’s youth and today’s leaders of the value of dialogue, negotiation and compromise to the effective functioning of government at every level,” said Robert Clay, Co-Chairman of the Clay Center and a distant cousin of the statesman. “Clay’s reliance on these tools and principles was key to the development of our Republic 200 years ago, and is just as crucial to successfully meeting the challenges of today,” he said.

The barrel, a custom 42-gallon white oak barrel hand-crafted by the Independent Stave Company and containing the the highest quality Bourbons, departs Lexington, Kentucky on February 2 from Ashland, Clay’s 16-acre estate on a horse-drawn carriage following a ceremony in front of the famed estate and attended by Clay’s extended family, local and state officials, Henry Clay Center students and Master Distillers from Kentucky’s famed bourbon producers . It will travel by carriage and bus to Washington D. C., where it will be presented to the historic Willard Hotel, where Clay first introduced the Bourbon Mint Julep.

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship hopes to have a continuing influence in Washington as it teaches and advocates for the values and principles that Henry Clay used to benefit the nation.


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January 26, 2015 – LEXINGTON, KY – Institutions representing two of Kentucky’s most important gifts to the nation – Bourbon whiskey and famed statesman Henry Clay – announced today they have united to dramatically reprise a tradition going back two centuries to “lubricate the wheels of government,” and remind leaders in the capital of the value of negotiation and compromise.

On Feb. 2, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, which conducts civic education for high school and college students, will host a ceremony at Ashland, Clay’s 16-acre estate in the heart of Lexington, to fill and send a unique collaborative “Bourbon Barrel of Compromise” destined for the historic InterContinental Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full press release


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