Summer at a close and Bourbon Heritage Month not far behind, we thought it might be time to look back and cover a joyous Bourbon themed event – The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
A brief bit of history before diving right in. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival created the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame (Say that three times fast after three fingers of Bourbon.) back in 2001.
For those not familiar with 2001- it was the year that Knob Creek’s Booker Noe laid down a set of barrels to be finished by his Son, Fred Noe, some 14 years later. It was also the year that Apple released iTunes and America lost over 2000 souls to a terror attack. It was a year filled with bright and chillingly somber moments.
"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." --Harry S Truman
As America carried on, The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (or KDA) moved forward to honor those who made great strides in the industry of Bourbon making. Red Carpet runway entrances and designer gowns were not front and center for the first ceremony. However, this year’s event was attended by over 200 Bourbon luminaries- managing to bring a little Hollywood glitzy, glory and gowns to My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown.
Who was inducted in 2019?This year The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inducted Katrina Egbert, Wes Henderson, Larry Kass, Peggy Noe Stevens, and Charles Medley. Also, Even G. Kulsveen was presented with the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is named in honor of the late Parker Beam, Heaven Hill’s master distiller emeritus who died in 2017.
Katrina EgbertVisitor Center Marketing Coordinator, Wild Turkey Distillery
Dedicated nearly 30 years to the brand and manages scheduling both of Wild Turkey Master Distiller’s, Jimmy and Eddie Russell.
Peggy Noe StevensFounder & President, Peggy Noe Stevens & Associates
First female Master Bourbon Taster in the industry and the founder of Bourbon Women, the first women’s consumer organization in the beverage industry.
Wesley HendersonCo-Founder/Chief Innovation Officer, Louisville Distilling Co.
Helped his Father, Lincoln Henderson, create Angel’s Envy. A mentor and advocate to every member of the Whiskey Guardian Program.
Larry KassDirector of Trade Relations (Ret.), Heaven Hill Distillery
Managed Heaven Hill’s historic portfolio of American Whiskeys and introduced new brands and celebrated the historic labels and names in the Heaven Hill portfolio.
Charles W. Medley(Retired) Master Distiller, Medley Distilling Co./Charles Medley Distillery
A 60-year veteran of the industry who represents the best of the history of the timeless art of Bourbon making.
Even G. KulsveenExecutive Director, Willett Distillery (Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award)
Executive Director of Willett Distillery. Responsible for restarting one of the most historic distilleries and making it an international presence.
As in years past, The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame recognized key individuals and organizations for their inspiring achievements that made a positive impact on Bourbon’s reputation and perception in the US and abroad. Nominations are made by Kentucky Distillers Association (The KDA) member distilleries and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Board and voted on by the KDA Board.
All the honorees were presented with a still-shaped copper trophy from The KDA at a ceremony at My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
Who else is in The Bourbon Hall of Fame?Previous Notable inductees include:
- Chris Morris - Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve - 2017
- Bill Samuels, Jr., -Son of the founder of Maker's Mark, chairman emeritus of the brand after 35 years as president and CEO. (Lifetime Achievement) - 2017
- Frederick Booker Noe, Master Distiller of Jim Beam III - 2013
- Dale DeGroff - Bartender and Cocktail icon. Referred to as the King of Cocktails - 2005
- Gary Regan - Bartender Emeritus at The Dead Rabbit and an Award-winning writer - 2004
- Lincoln Wesley Henderson - Master Distiller and co-creator of Angel’s Envy 2001
All of the men and women inducted into The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame contributed countless hours and a metric ton of blood, sweat and tears to make Bourbon better. Next time you raise a glass (neat or on the rocks) take time to toast these Bourbon Hall of Famers.
"My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien." -Leonard Nimoy American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer, and songwriter. March 26, 1931 to February 27, 2015
Cover image: The Bourbon Hall of Fame