September14th2016

For Immediate Release – September 14, 2016

 

BARDSTOWN, Ky. – The prestigious Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame today honored five individuals for their service and support of the Commonwealth’s signature industry, including a living Bourbon legend as this year’s recipient of the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement award.

“This year’s distinguished class has a shared theme – they served behind-the-scenes to promote, protect and elevate our timeless craft,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “But make no mistake – they are the backbone of our growth and success.

“Today we rightfully shine the spotlight on them in gratitude and congratulations. Their remarkable achievements have propelled Kentucky Bourbon into a Golden Age that continues to provide new jobs, investment and global recognition for our beloved Commonwealth.”

This year’s inductees are, in alphabetical order (click here for press release with bios):

  • Barry Becton, Senior Director of State Government Affairs, Diageo North America
  • Joy Perrine, author and veteran award-winning bartender at Equus Restaurant and Jack’s Lounge in Louisville
  • John Rhea, former Chief Operating Officer, Four Roses Distillery
  • Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller, Wild Turkey® (Lifetime Achievement)
  • William M. Street, former President, Brown-Forman Corp.

Russell, now in his 62nd year making whiskey at Wild Turkey, was honored with the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award. He was elected a charter member of the Hall of Fame in 2001 and a Lifetime Honorary Member of the KDA Board in 2014.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to receive this award because not only is Parker a true Kentucky legend, but one of my closest friends,” Russell said. “We grew up over Bourbon together, and I’ve lost count on the number of evenings we’ve swapped stories over a glass of my whiskey or his whiskey. All I can tell you is there have been a lot of laughs.

“Parker is a champion of our industry and a real fighter, and I admire him greatly. I wish him, the entire Beam family and the KDA my deepest thanks for this recognition.”

During his esteemed tenure, Russell has been responsible for the creation and launch of renowned Bourbons, such as Tradition, Tribute, Rare Breed, American Honey, Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve, which he co-created with his distilling partner and son, Eddie.

Known among peers as the “Buddha of Bourbon” and a true champion of the industry, Russell has received numerous awards around the world for his dedicated craftsmanship and lifelong support of Kentucky and its famous export.

Gregory and Chris Morris, Chairman of the KDA Board of Directors and Master Distiller at Brown-Forman Corp., presented Russell with a hand-crafted plaque in the shape of Kentucky made entirely from barrel staves.

“Jimmy’s willingness to help educate succeeding generations of Master Distillers is legendary,” Morris said. “He is our link to many of the traditions of the past that make our industry so special.”
The award was named last year for Parker Beam, who joined Heaven Hill in 1960 working under his father, Earl, as a sixth-generation distiller in his storied family. He became Master Distiller in 1975 and has earned numerous awards for distilling, aging and selecting some of the world’s most acclaimed Bourbons.

He was named Master Distiller Emeritus in 2013 shortly after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. His public advocacy for ALS research, care and awareness has generated millions for his “Promise of Hope” fund.

“Jimmy and I have known each other for over 50 years I have nothing but respect and admiration for Jimmy and his family,” Beam said. “I am proud to have him be the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award that the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame named for me last year, particularly since we both have literally spent our lifetimes working in this industry.”

Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.

The KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures also set an attendance record last year with nearly 900,000 guests touring an all-time high of 19 participating distilleries.

Created by the KDA in conjunction with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in 2001, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant and transformational impact on Bourbon’s stature, growth and awareness.

It is the highest honor given by the signature industry and is presented annually during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which runs through Sunday in Bardstown.

Candidates may be nominated each year by the KDA, its member distilleries and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival from four categories: Industry, Journalism, Roll of Honor and Lifetime Achievement. Nominees are then sent to the KDA Board of Directors for final selection.

The induction ceremony was held on the grounds of My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, one of the state’s most revered historic sites.

Federal Hill, the Georgian style mansion built around 1795, inspired Stephen Collins Foster to write his immortal song, “My Old Kentucky Home.” It is now part of Kentucky’s parks system and symbolizes the Bluegrass State’s gracious hospitality and genteel culture.

KDA President Gregory presented each inductee with an engraved miniature copper still before an elite crowd of 150 Bourbon barons and dignitaries. Each inductee’s name also was added to a Hall of Fame display at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown.

“It’s with great honor that we welcome these outstanding individuals to our hallowed ranks,” Gregory said. “Their names are forever etched into the history of our timeless craft, alongside legendary icons whose roots run deep in Bourbon lore.”

Barry Becton
Barry Becton
William Street
William Street
Jimmy Russell
Jimmy Russell
John Rhea
John Rhea
Joy Perrine
Joy Perrine

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For more information, contact Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351 or (859) 771-1050

Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Festival online at www.kybourbonfestival.com.

Learn more about the Kentucky Distillers’ Association at www.kybourbon.com.