Connecticut in Color: 4 Waterbury Childhood Friends Create Bourbon Brand

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For four childhood friends from Waterbury, 'Nineteen70Something' isn’t a reference to a hard-to-recall date or the single by the late, great Notorious B.I.G. It’s a nod to the beginning of their lives and now a dream realized.

Sean Dorantes, Paul Cannady, Dakar Franklin and Obee Byrd are the four friends behind 'Nineteen70Something' bourbon. The spirit is the result of spirited back and forth debates between the members of Wilby High’s Class of 1988.

“We consider ourselves brothers. We were born here in the city of Waterbury. We just get into conversations. Those conversations about who is the greatest emcee of all time, who is the greatest sports, basketball team of all time. One day we got into that conversation of, 'what’s the greatest bourbon that you’ve ever tasted?'" said Sean Dorantes. 

The four friends refer to themselves as members in their partnership surrounding their new brand. The group visited distilleries and spirit makers in Connecticut, Virginia, Kentucky and more, determined to put Waterbury on the map with their own special blend.

“Our second grain is wheat and that gives it a little sweeter taste. There’s a little butterscotch up front, a little caramel. Finishes off with a little vanilla,” Dorantes said.

Nineteen70Something bourbon
NBC Connecticut

“We didn’t have any experience in this at all. We all did our own research. We all came together, we would have meetings every Wednesday for over a year or two years,” Cannady said.

Through a lot of learning and the will to make it happen, 'Nineteen70Something' was born this spring and to say it's been well received is probably an understatement.

“We sold over 180 bottles in two hours. That was our first batch gone. Now, we’re on to batch three, that’s pretty much sold out, now we’re on to batch four and that’s pretty much sold out as well," Cannady said.

They’re now on shelves in about 10 stores, with close to two dozen more, including one major retailer, waiting for their supply to catch up with the huge demand. 

The business success is great, but the guys are more excited about what it represents for their community.

“The Black buying power is $1.2 trillion and growing. A lot of that money leaves our communities. It goes into the stores, and it goes out of our community. What we wanted to do is make sure that money stayed in our community,” Dorantes said.

“For me, it means a lot. To grow up in this city and do something that no one else has done,” Cannady said.

Four buddies - coming together to make something magical - representing for their city and showing that with the right team around you, anything is possible.

The 'Nineteen70Something' team has a plan to pour back into their community, starting a nonprofit and dedicating a portion of their profits to benefit children adversely impacted by alcohol. They also have a plan to export the bourbon into countries along with continuing to experiment with new formulations for their product.

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