Few people know that in the first Kentucky Derby, 13 of the 15 riders were African-American. In fact, Black jockeys won 15 of the first 28 Derbies, dominating the sport before the Jim Crow laws came into effect. The reasoning for the majority of the original jockeys being African-American stems from the fact that these jockeys were born into slavery or grew up as children of slaves who were responsible for taking care of the horses. The stories of these Black jockeys, like the names of Oliver Lewis, Isaac Murphy, Alonzo Clayton, and Soup Perkins—have been lost over the years. Old Hillside’s "The Last Rye'd" Whiskey pays homage to these riders, reminding us of our history and inspiring us to harness some of that bravery and strength for the future.
The name “Old Hillside" derives from Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina. This historically Black high school is one of five high schools that still operates post desegregation. Though only Jesse and Brian attended this school, all four founders appreciate the history and heritage that the name holds and believed it was more than worthy of their brand name. The team even created a limited release Straight Bourbon Whiskey that was a commemoration of the high school's centennial celebration, and proceeds benefited the school.