The bourbon world received some sad news today with the passing of an industry legend Four Roses Distillery Senior Brand Ambassador and Historian Al Young.
The Four Roses family is in mourning. “Al Young, Four Roses Senior Brand Ambassador, passed away yesterday with his family by his side. Husband, father, grandfather and friend, Al was an integral part of Four Roses’ legacy and history, having been with our distillery for more than 50 years. This sudden news is shocking for all of us at Four Roses. Al was truly one of a kind and we will sorely miss him, his smile and his stories,” said a statement from Four Roses.
Albert “Al” Young, Jr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, June 20, 1942 and passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 25, 2019. Al is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gretchen; his children, Marc Young (Donna), Heather Raker (Neal) and Christine Fisher (Terry); and his grandchildren Anna, Laura, Clayton and Oliver, all of whom he loved dearly.
Al joined Four Roses on June 5, 1967 and dutifully served the distillery in a variety of roles over five decades. In 1990, he became Distillery Manager and in 2007 was named Four Roses Brand Ambassador, a role where he crossed the country, and the world, sharing the story of Four Roses and its Bourbon. He is also historian for the 130-year old Kentucky Bourbon brand, having researched archives, distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts. He was a walking and talking Bourbon encyclopedia, and used this to author the book Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend. Al’s book first published in 2010, and he was in the process of updating its third edition with new chapters of Four Roses’ history.
Al was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and is also a member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association expressed deep sadness on the sudden passing of Al Young, one of the industry’s most endearing ambassadors and leading historians with a wealth of industry knowledge and experience that spanned over half a century.
“Al was an ambassador for Kentucky Bourbon long before the job was even invented,” Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory said. “The thing I’ll remember most is that Al was always smiling. Always. You just knew he loved his job, his family and his life. We were lucky to share in his spirit.
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Gregory said Young’s infectious charisma, trademark grin and energetic passion for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry made him an iconic figure among Bourbon fans all over the world.
“Al was one of our industry’s truest champions, and he will be missed by all.”
Young began his career in the distilling industry in 1967 with Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. As his career progressed, he gained knowledge and experience at several of the Seagram’s distilleries in Kentucky and Indiana before ultimately settling at Four Roses Distillery in 1990.
He was a 2011 inductee into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, a member of the inaugural class of the Order of the Writ, and one of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s official historians due to his 50+ years of experience and abundance of institutional industry knowledge.
“Our distilling family and our beloved Commonwealth has lost a treasured visionary who was a friend to everyone he met,” Gregory said. “We encourage whiskey lovers around the world to raise a glass of Four Roses today and toast the enduring legacy of our dear friend, Al Young.”
Gregory said the KDA and its 40 members offered their deepest condolences to Al’s lovely and longtime wife, Gretchen, their three children, and the entire Four Roses family.