The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame on Wednesday gave a lifetime achievement award to Bill Samuels Jr. of Maker’s Mark, the maverick marketer who turned red wax and scarcity into the keys to success.
Three more bourbon industry figures also were inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Bardstown, according to Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association:
▪ Chris Morris, master distiller of Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve and company vice president;
▪ Jerry Summers, director of community relations for Beam Suntory;
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▪ And the late Harry J. Shapira, executive vice president of Heaven Hill.
Samuels, who retired in 2011 after 35 years as president of Maker’s Mark, received the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award named for the late master distiller at Heaven Hill.
Samuels’ marketing skills helped elevate the bourbon created by his father and mother into one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
“Having grown up around some of the true legends in the industry, this award is pretty heady stuff for me,” Samuels said in a statement. “Any ‘lifetime achievement,’ in my case, is largely built on the opportunity I had to learn from the best in the business.”
Samuels received a hand-crafted plaque of the state of Kentucky crafted from barrel staves and dipped in Maker’s Mark’s signature red wax.
The Bourbon Hall of Fame, created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 2001, annually inducts new members during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.