In 2017, longtime friends Amani Macaulay and Chima Burey were on separate career paths in finance when an overdue catch-up and cocktails at a South Florida bar hatched an unexpected business idea: an original premium craft whiskey inspired by their shared love of butterscotch candy. Fast-forward five years and multiple awards later (including the prestigious SIP Awards Consumers’ Choice Award in 2019), and the pair is rewriting the script on flavored whiskeys with Duke & Dame, their salted caramel–forward spirit that’s equal parts smooth, aromatic, and complex. Aventura spoke with the dynamic duo behind the Florida-based brand to get more insight on the whiskey that’s currently on the tip of everyone’s tongue—literally.
AVM: How did you conceptualize a whiskey different from those already on the market?
Macaulay and Burey: When we created Duke & Dame, many flavored whiskeys were overly sweet and syrupy, made with lower quality whiskeys, and often had an artificial aftertaste. We saw an opportunity to offer something new in the category by creating a high-quality, 100 percent naturally flavored whiskey that would appeal to everyone: men, women, young, old, whiskey enthusiasts, whiskey newcomers, and everyone in between. In fact, the name Duke & Dame—with its representation of a man and a woman—signifies that this is a whiskey for everyone.
Your whiskey has won several major awards for its taste. What’s your secret?
Duke & Dame comprises a premium blend of 100 percent corn whiskeys, including a two-year aged bourbon that introduces notes of slightly charred orange, toffee, and spice. It offers a unique layered tasting experience featuring robust caramel aromas and flavors in the first sip, followed by distinct bourbon notes (e.g., hints of oak and spice) in subsequent sips.
As a Florida-based brand, how do you keep true to your Sunshine State roots?
When we created Duke & Dame, we wanted to create a true Florida brand. We worked with a distillery that produces corn-based whiskey using corn from Florida farms. We found a business in Hialeah to paint the artwork on our bottles. We found a packaging manufacturer to produce our cartons in Miami Gardens. And of course, Chima is a Miami native.
Where can we try an original cocktail that includes Duke & Dame locally?
At Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Overtown, we love The Dame, which combines our whiskey with grapefruit, lemon, red wine, and agave.
Can your whiskey be used in desserts?
We hear from consumers all the time that they love using our whiskey in their deserts (and even coquito), whether it’s a Duke & Dame caramel sauce or replacing rum with Duke & Dame in a rum cake recipe. At 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen in Aventura, the tres leches bread pudding is made with Hawaiian sweet bread and Duke & Dame.
How do you prefer to drink Duke & Dame at home? On the rocks? Simple cocktail?
Our go-to drinks at home are probably the Duke & Dame old-fashioned, Manhattan, or whiskey sour—very quick and easy to make.
What’s next for Duke & Dame?
We will expand the business within our current three markets (Florida, Michigan, and New York), go into new markets, and introduce additional flavor expressions. Follow us on Instagram (@dukeanddamewhiskey) for the latest news, cocktail recipes, and a whole lot of whiskey inspiration.