KDA Members Praise Bill Samuels as Icon Innovator Ambassador and Friend

January 12, 2011

-Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, released the following statement on the retirement of Bill Samuels Jr., President and CEO of Maker’s Mark Distillery:

“Bill Samuels is an icon and a legend in Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry. His marketing genius, international vision and gentleman leadership has helped propel Kentucky Bourbon into the global spotlight where it shines today.

“His legacy with our signature spirit is etched in every handcrafted barrel. But, just as important, Bill is an outspoken champion for Kentucky, from critical issues like education to charitable causes that are too numerous to list.

“We are proud and fortunate to have him as an Ambassador for our industry and our great Commonwealth. We wish him all the best in his new role as Chairman Emeritus, and we look forward to working with his son, Rob, as he continues the Samuels legacy at Maker’s Mark.”

-John Rhea, Chairman of the KDA Board of Directors and Chief Operating Officer at Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg:

“Bill’s career at Maker’s Mark can be summarized in one word — innovator. His leadership and development of Maker’s Mark as a premium small batch Bourbon helped pave the way for supreme brands that launched our signature industry into an unparalleled chapter of success.

“On behalf of the KDA and its member distilleries, we offer our sincere thanks for a lifetime of service and dedication to Kentucky and our landmark industry, and best wishes for continued success in his new role.”

-Max L. Shapira, President of Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the nation’s largest remaining independent family owned and operated Bourbon distiller:

“Bill Samuels and I both grew up together in Bardstown as the sons of prominent Bourbon families. Bill has done a lot for the Bourbon industry during his career, and he has certainly been instrumental in the renaissance of the Bourbon category over the last 20 years or so. His larger-than-life presence will certainly be missed at industry gatherings and functions.”

-Eddie Russell, Associate Master Distiller at Wild Turkey:

“Jimmy and Eddie Russell, and all of Wild Turkey, would like to thank Bill Samuels for being such a great ambassador to our Bourbon industry. Bill is a true pioneer in marketing his Bourbon. We also wish Rob Samuels the best of luck following the family tradition of making Bourbon.”

For more information, please contact Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351

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