Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech Founder, 1944-2018

It is with great sadness that Alltech announces the passing of its founder and president, Dr. Pearse Lyons. Lyons died on Thursday, March 8, due to an acute lung condition that developed during his recovery from heart surgery. He was 73.

“We are all deeply saddened by my father’s passing,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, Pearse’s son and chairman and president of Alltech. “He always focused on developing people, and he built an extraordinary team over the years. I know he had full confidence in his team to continue growing the company he built. He saw farther into the horizon than anyone in the industry, and we, as his team, are committed to delivering on the future he envisioned. He planted seeds that will produce a bountiful harvest for the world in the years to come.”

“The thoughts of our entire Alltech family around the world are with Dr. Lyons’ family, specifically his wife Deirdre, daughter Aoife, son Mark and Mark’s wife Holly,” said Alric Blake, CEO and treasurer of Alltech.

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Dr. Lyons Impact on the Brewing and Distilling Industries

It’s rather amazing how many hats Dr. Lyons could wear. He was a world class business man with a heart for brewing and distilling. He knew how to grab a story and tell it like few others could tell it. He had a passion for distilling and can claim three distilleries to his legacy,

In 1980, Dr. Lyons established The Alcohol School in Lexington, Kentucky, one of the few schools at that time for the distilling industry, and ran it for 25 years. He also published and co-authored The Alcohol Textbook, a text that evolved over four editions and soon became a key source for the beverage, fuel and industrial alcohol industries.

In 1999, when the former Lexington Brewing Company in downtown Lexington was closing its doors, Dr. Lyons purchased it to resurrect the brewing and distilling tradition of Lexington that dates back to 1794. The first beer from Dr. Lyons’ new brewery, Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co., was Kentucky Ale®, a blend of two classic beer styles – an Irish red ale and an English pale ale. Another breakthrough came several years later when Kentucky Ale was placed into freshly emptied bourbon barrels from nearby distilleries to soak up the fresh bourbon and oak flavors. This brew was known as Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale® and soon became the brewery’s flagship brew after its introduction to the market in 2006. It is regarded as one of the forerunners of the bourbon-barrel aging trend in craft beer.

In 2008, using two copper pot stills brought in from Scotland, the company distilled its first batches of whiskey in the brewery – and the company name was changed to Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. After four years of aging, the company began bottling and selling its whiskey in October 2012. Town Branch Distillery was built across the street from the brewery – the first new distillery to be built in Lexington for more than 100 years – and became one of only a handful in the world to house both brewing and distilling operations. This new distillery was added to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and was the first craft distillery to be inducted into the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Town Branch Distillery now produces a line of spirits, including Pearse Lyons Reserve® – a malt whiskey introduced to the world on Dr. Lyons’ birthday, fulfilling his dream of one day having his own whiskey.

Dr. Lyons continued to build upon his brewing and distilling passion – and his legacy – when in 2017 he and Deirdre realized their dream of opening an Irish whiskey distillery in Dublin. Their quest to find the perfect location led them to the long-abandoned St. James’ Church in The Liberties district of the city. The church had been built prior to the signing of the Magna Carta, and Dr. Lyons and Deirdre set about painstakingly restoring it. The design project was led by Deirdre, introducing iconic new elements, such as a landmark glass spire – dubbed the ‘Liberties Lantern’ – and stained-glass windows designed by Deirdre herself. The creation of the new Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James was made all the more meaningful by the fact that Dr Lyons’ great-grandfather and several other relatives were buried in the churchyard.

The Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery is under construction in Pikeville, KY and is expected to open in Spring of 2018.

A Serial Entrepreneur

“Dr. Lyons was a visionary entrepreneur who transformed the agriculture industry beginning with his innovative application of yeast technology in animal nutrition. From farm to field, from market to family dinner table, our world is immeasurably better because he was a man who never saw problems, only a challenge that had not yet been solved.

“He inspired everyone he met with his energy, enthusiasm and passionate belief in possibilities. He instilled that positivity in his people, more than 5,000 Alltech team members around the world. I am confident I speak on behalf of all of them when I say that we are deeply honored to have known and worked for such a great man. We will resolve to honor his legacy by deepening our commitment to his customers and all the innovative ideas he believed in so strongly.”

To continue driving forward his vision for serving the agriculture industry through field-proven innovations, Dr. Lyons established a clear leadership structure, including his son, Dr. Mark Pearse Lyons, Chairman and President, Alric A. Blake, Chief Executive Officer and Treasurer and E. Michael Castle II, Vice President and Secretary.

Giving Back

As the company’ director of corporate image and design, Mrs. Deirdre Lyons will continue to further Dr. Lyons’ vision for Alltech’s global presence and their shared commitment to philanthropy and community involvement.

Dr. Lyons’ family are deeply appreciative of the many prayers and well wishes they have received from friends around the world. At this time, they kindly ask that any expressions of sympathy, including memories and tributes, be shared at Alltech.com/PearseLyons.

In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations to the Alltech ACE Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that funds a variety of philanthropic endeavors around the world from disaster relief to primary schools in Haiti.

Funeral masses will be in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, on March 17 and in Dublin, Ireland, in April. Public visitation in Lexington will be on Friday, March 16. A special celebration of life will be held on May 20 at the beginning of ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington.

Related Stories 
Pearse Lyons Distillery Spire Lights Up Dublin Skyline as Grand Opening Approaches  
Town Branch Distillery Parent to Open 3rd Distillery – This time in Ireland 
Dueling Barrels Brewing and Distilling Breaks Ground in Kentucky

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