Kentucky Distillers’ Association Honors U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell With “100 Proof” Award

March 28, 2018

For Immediate Release – March 28, 2018


VERSAILLES, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association this week honored U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with its prestigious “100 Proof Award” for his leadership in championing the state’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.) is the first federal official to ever receive the award, which is the highest honor that the KDA bestows to elected officials. KDA member executives presented him with a commemorative “100 Proof Award” barrel head Monday at Brown-Forman’s landmark Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles.

“As he has proven time and again, Bourbon has no better friend in Washington, D.C., than Leader McConnell,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “He understands, better than anyone, that Bourbon is more than just a drink – it’s jobs, investment and a thriving global symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition.

“The KDA and its 39 members today thank Sen. McConnell for his leading advocacy, legislative skill, and tremendous track record in support of our legendary craft. We are truly honored by his friendship and proud to present him with this esteemed award.”

“I would like to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for honoring me with its ‘100 Proof Award,’” Sen. McConnell said. “Bourbon continues to make an important impact on our Commonwealth and our nation, and I am proud to continue supporting Kentucky’s signature industry.

“I was especially happy to discuss the positive effects of the historic tax reform law, which is already benefiting Kentucky distillers and their workers.”

In presenting the award, Gregory noted Sen. McConnell’s leadership in passage of historic tax reform and relief legislation, including the first decrease of the federal excise tax on spirits in generations. “The results of this sweeping tax overhaul at our distilleries – big and small – have been transformational,” Gregory said.

“Bourbon is the highest taxed industry in Kentucky and one of the highest in the country,” he said. “By lowering the federal excise tax on alcohol, our distilleries have been able to create new jobs, reinvest in their facilities, offer bonuses to workers and increase contributions to charitable causes.”

Gregory also applauded Sen. McConnell’s work in expanding free and fair trade, eliminating restrictive tax policies on aging spirits, fully funding the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to increase regulatory efficiencies, as well as his proven and public record of support for Kentucky Bourbon.

Sen. McConnell is only the seventh person to ever receive the award, which the KDA created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s timeless 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.

Previous recipients of the non-partisan award are:

  • 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;
  • Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry;
  • Senate President Robert Stivers 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;
  • Dennis Keene in 2015 for his tireless six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers;
  • John Schickel, R-Union, and Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.

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 $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.

In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 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 39 companies operating 52 distilleries in the Commonwealth making 6.8 million barrels of aging Bourbon – all modern records. Distillers also paid a record $19.2 million last year in barrel taxes that fund critical local programs such as education, public safety and health.

The KDA’s famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® announced recently that visitors made more than 1 million stops at participating distilleries for the second straight year. Attendance has skyrocketed by 314 in the last 10 years.

Visit and to learn more.

Gregory said, “We look forward to continuing our work with Leader McConnell to modernize our nation’s alcohol laws, hold the line on alcohol taxes, protect Bourbon’s unique standards of identity and strengthen Kentucky’s rightful title as the one, true and authentic home for America’s only native spirit.”


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

Founded in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the historic voice for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Its diverse and growing membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are fostering the next generation of the Commonwealth’s timeless craft and treasured economic engine. Member benefits include media relations, international trade development, private sampling events, technical assistance, economic development support, networking, legal defense, marketing strategies, governmental and regulatory advocacy and innovative tourism experiences through the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures. The KDA maintains an open membership policy, champions a strong commitment to the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits, and fights to curb underage drinking and drunk driving. Learn more at and

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