The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame® was created in 2001 to recognize the sacrifice, passion and determination of those who have made Kentucky Bourbon what it is today. The ceremony has not happened over the last couple of years because of the pandemic. Thankfully, this year’s event will happen as the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame gets ready to induct six new members to their elite standing in the bourbon industry.
The 2022 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductees include two distillery founders, two influential lawmakers, a groundbreaking industry veteran and the acclaimed grandson of a Bourbon baron.
The Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to the Late Stephen Thompson
In addition to the inductees there is the prized jewel The Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award will be bestowed on the late Stephen Francis Thompson. Anyone that has been in the industry for a few years knows that Thompson has been instrumental in steering one of the largest distilleries in the world as well as incubating many craft spirits startup distilleries. In Steve’s previous career he was the President of Brown Forman Distilleries. Most recently he was the Founder and President of Kentucky Artisan Distillery. Thompson unexpectedly passed away in 2021 at the age of 79 after an accident.
“Since we lost the past two years to COVID-19, this is officially the 20th anniversary of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, whiskey’s most spirited honor,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
“Congratulations to this year’s esteemed class which celebrates the visionaries, artisans and partners that have made Kentucky Bourbon – and our beloved Commonwealth – the gold standard of American whiskey. And, on behalf of our industry, a heartfelt thank you.”
Please Welcome the 2022 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Inductees
Andrea Marie Wilson, distinguished industry veteran, Executive Vice President, General Manager and Master of Maturation at Michter’s Distillery, and in 2009, the first woman to chair the KDA Board of Directors.
Kaveh Zamanian, Founder, Whiskey Maker and CEO, Rabbit Hole Distillery, left Iran in 1979 during the revolution and founded Rabbit Hole in 2012. He blends the immigrant whiskey maker tradition with time-honored methods, diverse perspectives and modernist aesthetics.
Julian P. Van Winkle, III, President, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, heralded grandson of Bourbon legend Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, creator of the ultra-aged premium Pappy Van Winkle brand and the very first James Beard winner from Kentucky, as well as numerous other accolades.
Retiring Rep. D. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, Majority Whip, Kentucky House of Representatives, two-time recipient of the KDA’s “100 Proof” award for public service and champion of several landmark pieces of legislation.
Retiring U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, Co-Founder of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus and Chair of the House Budget Committee who helped lead a permanent reduction on the federal excise tax on distillers among other key measures.
The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant and transformational impact on Bourbon’s stature, growth and awareness. It is the highest honor given by the signature industry.
The invitation-only ceremony will be held Sept. 13 at My Old Kentucky Home state park in Bardstown, Ky., one of the state’s most revered historic sites. It is held annually in conjunction with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which runs Sept. 16-18, 2022 in Bardstown, Kentucky.
Following the induction ceremony, there will be an exclusive reception sponsored by Independent Stave Company. ISC President & CEO Brad Boswell and his father, John, are both Hall of Fame members.
How Inductees into the Hall of Fame are Chosen
This year, for the first time ever, a blue-ribbon committee of renowned Hall of Fame members reviewed and selected inductees. Candidates are nominated each year by the KDA and its member distilleries in three categories: Industry, Roll of Honor and Lifetime Achievement.
The selection committee includes all living recipients of the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award: Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller of Wild Turkey; Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Maker’s Mark; Max Shapira, Executive Chairman of Heaven Hill Brands and Even Kulsveen, Executive Director of Willett Distillery.
Also serving were Kevin Smith, Chairman of the KDA Board of Directors and Vice President of Kentucky Bourbon Affairs for Beam Suntory; Chris Morris, Governor of the Order of the Writ – Spirit of Kentucky Bourbon Society and Vice President and Master Distiller at Brown-Forman Corp.; and noted author Dixie Hibbs of Bardstown, who was appointed by the KDA President.
The KDA also commissioned glassblowing artist Brook Forrest White, Jr., of Flame Run in Louisville to craft unique and contemporary awards that incorporate Bourbon-inspired motifs such as amber colors, oak, copper, and water.
A student of the late famed glass artist Stephen Rolfe Powell at Centre College in Danville, Ky., White’s work has been recognized nationally, including at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at several distilleries in Kentucky.
Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured industries, a booming $9 billion economic and tourism engine sustaining more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.23 billion each year, over $285 million in local and state taxes and $1.8 billion in federal alcohol taxes.
A key export, the iconic industry is currently in the middle of a $5.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism experiences to expanded production facilities, bottling centers and aging warehouses, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.
Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 435% since the turn of the century.
Kentucky now boasts more than 10.3 million barrels of Bourbon aging in warehouses across the Bluegrass, the most in its revered distilling history. Distillers filled more than 2.4 million barrels in 2020 alone, the third year in a row that production topped the two million mark.
“We look forward to seeing all our living legends next month and celebrating the best of the best of our historic industry and toasting our success,” Gregory said. “Thanks to our partners at Independent Stave Company and our distinguished members.”
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