Kevin Smith

Kentucky Distillers’ Association Honors Industry Veteran With Prestigious “Esprit de Corps” Award

December 21, 2023

Kevin D. Smith, Former Master Distiller and Industry Executive, Honored For More Than Three Decades of Service and Leadership to Kentucky Bourbon

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today announced that Kevin D. Smith is a recipient of the “Esprit de Corps Award,” an elite recognition honoring leaders who personify the legendary group’s spirit of camaraderie and integrity. 

The esteemed Esprit de Corps Award can be bestowed by the Chair of the KDA’s Board of Directors to individuals who have, “by demonstrable and honorable action,” gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the mission of the KDA and Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Smith has 34 years of distinguished service to the KDA and the Bourbon industry, having worked at top distilleries in the state as the former Master Distiller and Vice President of Production at Maker’s Mark and the last eight years as the Vice President of Kentucky Bourbon Affairs for Beam Suntory.

In addition, Smith has served on numerous civic and charitable organizations, including Chairman of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce from 2022-2023, Chairman of the Governor’s Workforce Innovation Board, Chairman of the Japanese American Society of Kentucky and many more. 

“If you’re involved in Bourbon, you know the name Kevin Smith is synonymous with respect, experience and leadership,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “I’m proud that KDA has recognized his many contributions to the betterment of our Association, our iconic industry and our beloved Commonwealth.” 

KDA Board Chairman Chris Morris conferred the award to Smith at the KDA’s 2023 annual State Dinner in Louisville. Smith received a commemorative plaque and engraved medal in recognition of his exceptional service. 

Morris said Smith joined the KDA Board of Directors in 2019 and served as Chairman in 2022. He also chaired the KDA’s Kentucky Spirits Collaborative, its Governmental Affairs Advisory Group, its Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) initiative, and was Secretary of the group’s non-profit Lifting Spirits Foundation. 

“Kevin has been a vocal and vital leader of the KDA for the last decade and is widely respected for his ability to calmly communicate and collaborate with fellow distillers and partners to advance our signature industry and our venerable Association,” Morris said.  

Smith said, “To be honored by my fellow distillers and Bourbon legends leaves me immensely grateful. I’m grateful for those who came before me in this industry, I’m grateful for those who work alongside me now, and I’m eager to see how our industry innovates and grows into the future, all right here in my Old Kentucky Home.”

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