Kentucky Distillers’ Association Honors Five Legislators With Top “100 Proof” Award

August 24, 2020

For Immediate Release – August  24, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is honoring five state lawmakers with its prestigious “100 Proof Award” for their bold leadership in championing landmark legislation in the 2020 session that elevates Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.  

The five legislators are, in alphabetical order:

  • Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, Chairman of the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee
  • House Majority Whip Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown
  • Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville
  • Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, Chairman of the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee
  • Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown

“These gentlemen went above and beyond in negotiating historic legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. 

“On behalf of the KDA and our 39 members, we are honored to present them with this award and thank them for their tireless efforts to further modernize our iconic industry, especially during a challenging and unprecedented session because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The KDA created the “100 Proof” award in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry. 

Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the KDA’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group and the KDA Board of Directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic Bourbon industry gives to elected officials. 

Gregory noted this is the second time that the KDA has honored Sens. Schickel and Thayer and Rep. McCoy for their support. “We’re going to have to come up with a higher proof award for officials who demonstrate their degree of consistent and critical leadership,” Gregory said. 

Sen. Schickel was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 99, which permanently authorizes local option precinct elections for distilleries; sets minimum standards of production for spirits licensees; and allows collaborate beer sales in distillery gift shops.

Rep. Koenig was the primary sponsor of House Bill 415, which gives distillers and other alcohol producers the ability to ship directly to consumers, creating a national model for other states to adopt for reciprocity and leveling the playing field with the wine industry. 

Sens. Thayer and McGarvey and House Whip McCoy were fierce advocates of the legislation and the parity it provides, and were instrumental in negotiating the bi-partisan passage in their respective chambers.

In addition, all worked towards other KDA priorities, including full funding for Kentucky’s new ignition interlock program; additional license assistance during the pandemic; and a vital tax exemption for alcohol manufacturers that was in jeopardy due to a tourism-related technicality. 

“We applaud these leaders for passing historic reforms that are transforming our industry and making Kentucky a model for removing Prohibition-era policies that hamper growth and investment,” said Barry Becton, who chairs the KDA’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group.

“We also thank them for seeking input from all sectors of the alcohol industry and working through a fair, careful and open process to determine what’s best for business and consumers,” said Becton, who is Senior Director of Federal Affairs & Whiskey for Diageo North America. 

KDA officials will present the honorees with a commemorative barrel head soon in Frankfort.

Previous recipients of the non-partisan award are:

  • Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws;
  • Gov. Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry;
  • Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, in 2014 for his bold leadership that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit;
  • Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, in 2015 for his determined six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers;
  • Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, and Sen. Schickel, R-Union, in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.
  • Senate Majority Leader Thayer and Rep. McCoy in 2017 for their skilled leadership in passing legislation that gives visitors the ability to ship bottles home, and their staunch defense of key tourism development incentives during tense budget negotiations. 
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2018 for championing Kentucky Bourbon at the federal level, including passage of the first decrease of the federal tax on spirits in generations. 
  • Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in 2018 for providing leadership in elevating tourism and collaborating with the KDA to develop partnerships with Louisville’s culinary and cosmopolitan endeavors, as well as other Bourbon-related opportunities.

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 $8.6 billion economic engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion million each year.

In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $2.3 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.

There are now 9.1 million barrels of Bourbon and other spirits gently aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest number in the modern era of American Whiskey. Kentucky now boasts two barrels of spirits for every person living in the Commonwealth. 

Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360 percent since the turn of the century, with Kentucky distillers filling 2.1 million barrels in 2018, the first and only time that milestone has been topped in the 52 years of record-keeping at the KDA.

Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in the last 10 years. Visitors made nearly 2 million stops stops last year, the highest number since KDA founded the tour in 1999. 

Visit and to learn more. 


For more information, contact KDA President Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351.

KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIR™, KBT™, and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Please savor our Bourbon and distilled spirits like a true Kentuckian – Responsibly. 

Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly