October 13, 2016 Print

“The history of whiskey is also the story of freedom — the freedom to connect and create.”

The unique history of whiskey in America is the result of spontaneous order and human creativity, explains a highly anticipated new short film from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). I, Whiskey: The Human Spirit was first announced last year as the latest in CEI’s heralded I, Pencil documentary series. Whiskey, and its iconic role in the United States, took off following the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933, which allowed competition and innovation to flourish. The business of whiskey also builds relationships that transmit information about quality and value among both producers and consumers.

I, Whiskey: The Human Spirit is a story about what we can accomplish when we’re free to create and innovate,” CEI explains. “It’s a celebration of human ingenuity and the market — how these forces have brought people together and shaped both whiskey and society for ages.”

CEI’s I, Pencil documentary series is inspired by Leonard Reed’s famous essay of the same name, which explained how consumer goods that are as seemingly simple, such as a pencil, are actually the product of the labor of countless individuals around the world, each performing a dizzying array of tasks — without the mandate of some remote central planner — that coalesce to allow a finished product that nobody could produce outside of that global system of competition and cooperation. The machines that form the graphite rods inside pencils are constructed with metal mined in another continent by miners who eat the produce of local farmers, and so on. The fruits of one’s own labor enable others to labor and create value.

The I, Whiskey adaptation of this lesson brings a modern touch that engages a wider and younger audience, as discussed by the panel “Motivating Millennials: Can the Freedom Movement Win Over the Next Generation?” during Atlas Network’s 2015 Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner. One of those panelists, Gloria Álvarez of Movimiento Cívico Nacional in Guatemala, mentioned the need to “bring the ideas behind ‘I, Pencil’ to the 21st century with ‘I, iPhone’” to demonstrate how free markets allow for human ingenuity, interconnectedness, and prosperity.

CEI launched an Indiegogo campaign last year and raised more than $80,000 for the project through the online platform. In its campaign description, CEI explained its desire to “produce a documentary telling the story of human ingenuity, craft, and the market's role in the storied history and current boom in whiskey.”

CEI is encouraging viewing parties of I, Whiskey to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19. If you are interested in hosting your own party, register to sign up to receive the I, Whiskey party kit. You can also participate in CEI’s online national I, Whiskey watch party.