Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and Kentucky Distillers’ Association Unite To Honor the Spirit of Compromise at Legendary Washington Hotel

January 26, 2015

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Greet Unique Barrel of Kentucky Bourbon

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

January 26, 2015 – LEXINGTON, KY – Institutions representing two of Kentucky’s most important gifts to the nation – Bourbon whiskey and famed statesman Henry Clay – announced today they have united to dramatically reprise a tradition going back two centuries to “lubricate the wheels of government,” and remind leaders in the capital of the value of negotiation and compromise.

On Feb. 2, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, which conducts civic education for high school and college students, will host a ceremony at Ashland, Clay’s 16-acre estate in the heart of Lexington, to fill and send a unique collaborative “Bourbon Barrel of Compromise” destined for the historic InterContinental Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association, a non-profit trade group founded in 1880, has partnered with the Henry Clay Center to provide the exclusive, custom 42-gallon white oak barrel filled with the state’ s iconic brands that has been hand-crafted by the Independent Stave Company.  The barrel will travel with Kentucky dignitaries by antique carriage and bus and arrive Feb. 3 at the Willard Hotel, where in the early 1800s, Clay first introduced the classic Bourbon Mint Julep to Washington, D.C. at the Willard’s Round Robin Bar.

Henry Clay – a gifted politician, skilled orator and consummate statesman – famously used to ship barrels laden with his state’s signature spirit to the Willard Hotel on each journey to Washington for use in his diplomatic efforts.

Clay, who served in both houses of Congress, was Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, and was one of the most consequential statesmen of the 19th century. Despite losing three races for the Presidency, his ability to work productively with opponents earned him the title “The Great Compromiser.”  His singular efforts are credited with helping a collection of states mature into a nation and delaying the Civil War by decades.

The event at Ashland will take place February 2nd at 10 a.m. with members of Clay’s extended family, program alumni, local and state officials in front of the residence at 120 Sycamore Road, Lexington, Kentucky, where Master Distillers from Kentucky’s famed Bourbon producers will fill the barrel and accompany it on its journey to Washington.

At approximately 7 p.m. on February 3rd , U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will greet the distillers and the barrel at the hotel, and after some brief remarks by the Majority Leader, he will join special guests, fellow Senators, U.S. Representatives and staff at a special  reception and premium Bourbon tasting .

“Re-enactment of Henry Clay’s delivery of a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon to Washington, and its reception by the Majority Leader, are meant to remind America’s youth and today’s leaders of the value of dialogue, negotiation and compromise to the effective functioning of government at every level,” said Robert Clay, Co-Chairman of the Clay Center and a distant cousin of the statesman. “Clay’s reliance on these tools and principles was key to the development of our Republic 200 years ago, and is just as crucial to successfully meeting the challenges of today. The Henry Clay Center hopes to have a regular presence in Washington to  remind leaders of the value of Clay’s ideals of compromise and reconciliation” he said.

“We are delighted and honored for the opportunity to take part in this project, which brings our Master Distillers and their timeless craft to Washington to highlight the role that Kentucky Bourbon has and continues to play on our national stage,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “We hope this becomes a regular reminder that we all have a strong interest in effective government, and the heart of our democracy lies in the spirit of unity and compromise.”

About the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

From its foundation in 2007, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship has had one defining mission – educating a new generation of leaders in the principles of statesmanship. Its flagship annual event is the student congress, a program to educate a new generation of leaders in the principles and practices of statesmanship as exemplified by Henry Clay, known as The Great Compromiser. To date, over 300 college and high school students have participated, in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, and The Ashland Estate. The one week intensive program focuses on statesmanship and compromise. Nationally-recognized speakers, writers and educators give lectures and lead discussion that focus on critical issues of the day. At the conclusion of the week students prepare for and then debate these issues on the floor of the Old State Capitol in Frankfort, testing their political acumen and leadership alongside their peers.  In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay’s election as Speaker of the House, the Center hosted a “Living Speakers of the House Symposium,” where Speakers Hastert, Pelosi and Boehner all attended. The Center continues to uphold the legacy of Henry Clay for future generations. For more information go to www.henryclaycenter.org


About the Kentucky Distillers’ Association

The KDA, a non-profit trade association founded in 1880, is the Commonwealth’s voice for Bourbon and distilled spirits issues. Its mission includes governmental and regulatory advocacy, technical assistance, international trade development, media relations, economic development support, and legal defense and integrated marketing strategies. Its 27 members – the most since the repeal of Prohibition – produce 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon and have transformed the legendary industry into a thriving, global economic engine and major tourism attraction with its Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® experiences. For more information, go to www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com.



Eduardo Nino-Moreno – Executive Director
[email protected]

MEDIA: Gregory Pettit – Guthrie Mayes
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