The Ava Gardner™ Trust has once again partnered with Seven Jars Distillery, a craft distillery and winery based in Charlotte, North Carolina, to produce a second edition of the award-winning Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey. The Ava Gardner Museum was thrilled to host the official launch event of the whiskey’s second edition on Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Smithfield, NC. The launch, which streamed free through Facebook Live, featured special guests from Seven Jars Distillery and the Ava Gardner Trust. Additionally, this virtual event included a live tasting session with certified bourbon stewards from Whiskey Tango Charlie. If you were unable to join us live, you can watch a recording of the entire event plus see some tasting reviews on the Museum's YouTube channel here.
From the start of their partnership, Seven Jars Distillery and the Ava Gardner Trust connected over their shared desire to create a truly distinctive, high-quality product to embody the spirit of Ava Gardner. Early in the process, Ava Thompson, Co-Trustee of the Ava Gardner Trust, visited the distillery and personally signed the barrels to be reserved and slow aged for the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey.
“The Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey 2nd Edition is outstanding,” said Ava Thompson, Ava Gardner’s great-niece and Co-trustee of the Ava Gardner Trust. “This 102-proof beverage is smooth, having been aged six years, and has a nice aroma. The subtle sweetness and a great oak flavor make it most enjoyable. What a great sipping whiskey over a few small cubes of ice, or, if you like, straight. It is surely a bourbon Ava would love and be proud to represent.”
Del Ratcliffe, Managing Partner of Seven Jars Distillery, said, “We are proud to continue our partnership with the Ava Gardner Trust and Legacy Talent and Entertainment LLC! This premium spirit is smooth, full of flavor, and has just the right amount of ‘kick’ – just like Ava.”
Ava Thompson, Co-Trustee of the Ava Gardner Trust, along with Melinda Morris Zanoni, founder and CEO of Legacy Talent and Entertainment LLC, toured the facilities of Seven Jars in Charlotte, NC to witness the bottling phase of the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey. Master Distiller Scott McClure along with Del Ratcliffe, Managing Partner of Seven Jars, examined the rich amber color of the whiskey with Ava Thompson.
"We are pleased to continue our representation of the Ava Gardner Trust and partnership with Seven Jars Distillery through the second release of Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey”, said Melinda Morris Zanoni of Legacy Talent and Entertainment LLC. "We hope through the continued deliverance of unique and quality products, we can keep alive the life and memory of the equally distinctive Ava Gardner."
In addition to the multi-year, slow-aging process of distilling the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey, great care and concern is put into the bottling and packaging stage as well. The team at Seven Jars is a boutique distillery and winery and each step they take – from development all the way through to delivery – is executed with the utmost attention to detail.
Ava Gardner developed a taste for whiskey in her first few years in 1940s Hollywood. She frequented legendary nightclubs like the Palladium, Ciro’s, Don the Beachcomber, and the Cocoanut Grove. As she listened to the music of her favorite big bands, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, her first husband, Mickey Rooney, would slip her bourbon in coffee cups because she was under California’s legal drinking age at the time. As a budding actress, Ava visited the most iconic Hollywood restaurants – Chasen’s, Romanoff’s, the Brown Derby, and Perino’s. These famous establishments for the stars were places to see and be seen, and they exclusively served the most premium beverages available. As Ava’s palate matured, she insisted on drinking only top-shelf spirits: no sweet and fruity cocktails for Miss Gardner. Ava also loved to entertain at her home, and, luckily for her guests, she was a fabulous cook and a great bartender! She served only the best to her visitors because she equated good food and drink with fun times and dear friends. Without question, she would have loved to serve the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey to her guests.
Seven Jars Distillery and the Ava Gardner Trust were inspired by Ava Gardner’s star-making performance in “The Killers” (1946) when they collaborated to develop the unique branding for the exclusive line of Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey products. Each label in the limited release whiskey features a different image of Ava Gardner as the ultimate femme fatale of Kitty Collins. The label designs remain a highly-guarded secret until the official product release events take place.
In her personal life, Ava drank for the effect because it helped her get over her extreme shyness and ease into her surroundings. Ava once said, “One thing about me, and it is a gift straight from heaven, or maybe the other place, is that no matter how much I have to drink I never stumble, never weave, and I never slur my speech, qualities I put down to a good Irish-Scottish capacity to hold strong drink.” In her early studio days, she learned that there was a little “snort” on the bottom shelf of the MGM refreshment cart that went around the backlot. Stars could have a little sip to help them relax on the sometimes stressful film sets. Ava enjoyed having a drink at dinner or parties. She was known to be happy, cheerful, and relaxed when she drank. Ava Thompson shared this reflection on her beloved Aunt Ava, “I was with her many times when she was drinking, and I never saw her drink to excess. She commented on more than one occasion that she did not like a sloppy drunk. Ava would want us to drink responsibly and above all else, not drink and drive.”
The newest label for the second release of the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey features Ava (left) wearing a stylish coat designed by Vera West, the head costume designer at Universal Studios from 1928 to 1947. The trench coat was originally popularized as a statement piece for women by trailblazing actress Greta Garbo in "Woman of Affairs" (1928). Professional film costumers began employing the trench coat for femme fatale characters, like Kitty Collins, in the gritty film noir of the 1940s, reintroducing the garment to a new generation of women who found the "look" empowering. Co-Trustees of the Ava Gardner Trust (right), Ava Thompson and Ava Malissa Silver, were excited to finally reveal the stunning new label design with the in-person and virtual audience members during the live-streaming launch event at the Ava Gardner Museum.
The first limited release of the award-winning Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey was an overwhelming success worldwide, and the second, even more flavorful, edition in the exclusive Ava line is the perfect encore. Ava Gardner loved great food and drinks shared with great friends, and this top-shelf whiskey truly embodies Ava’s spirit and the way she approached life. We appreciate all the fans who were able to join us for the virtual launch event live on the Ava Gardner Museum’s Facebook page. Thank you for helping us toast Ava and her great new bourbon edition from Seven Jars Distillery and the Ava Gardner Trust!
While Ava Gardner fans joined the whiskey launch event virtually from around the world, the limited in-person audience consisted of Museum staff, board members, and members of Ava Gardner's extended family. Three generations of "Avas" – (left, left to right) Ava Carol Creech Thompson, Ava Isabella Silver, and Ava Malissa Silver – raised a glass to their beloved relative and namesake after the virtual presentation. Guests and board members of the Ava Gardner Museum – (right, left to right) Warren Grimes, Beverly Creech (wife of board member), Donna Bailey-Taylor, and Joe Creech (great-grandnephew of Ava Gardner) – enjoyed moments of celebration and camaraderie over Ava-themed drinks and refreshments after the official product launch.
Distribution of the first and second releases of the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey are in North Carolina through local ABC stores and directly from the Seven Jars Distillery's tasting room in Charlotte, NC. If your local ABC store is not carrying the Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey, request that they stock it! If you are in or near Charlotte, visit here to reserve your bottle for curbside pickup. If you are an Ava Gardner fan living outside of North Carolina and interested in obtaining one of the limited release bottles, visit here to arrange order and delivery. The Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey has already become a collector's item, so buy one of the latest release to drink and one to save!
To hear more from the Co-Trustees of the Ava Gardner Trust, Ava Thompson and Ava Malissa Silver, about their thoughts on the new Ava Gardner Select Bourbon Whiskey 2nd Edition as well as how the classic film noir “The Killers” (1946) influenced the beverage’s development, check out our recent episode of the Museum's virtual program Ava Chats. You can watch it for free on the Ava Gardner Museum's YouTube channel here. You can also view a recording of the entire launch event plus see some tasting reviews and serving recommendations here. To learn more about the work of the Ava Gardner Trust, read this guest blog post from Ava Thompson.