Kentucky Distillers' Association - Cancels Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame 2021

For those that have ever tuned into a press conference over the last 12 months with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear you are accustomed to hearing the phrase, “Because of Covid…”. If one were to play a drinking game based on the phrase we suggest you stick with water rather than brown spirits or you will quickly be over the legal limit. That said, get ready to hear that dreaded phrase once again.

‘Because of Covid’ the Kentucky Distillers’ Association – KDA has decided to cancel the 2021 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame induction and ceremony. This is the second year in a row that out of an abundance of caution for those involved in the industry the in-person event has been canceled.

Started back in 2001 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 and is presented annually during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown each September during Bourbon Heritage Month. The inaugural group included these bourbon industry legends Parker Beam, Lincoln Wesley Henderson, Elmer T. Lee, Fred McMillan, Frederick Booker Noe, Jr., Jimmy Russel, Jim Rutledge and Bill Samuels, Jr. This prestigious event has been celebrated annually ever since until last year.

2021 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Canceled

Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame - Miniature Copper Still Awards

KDA President Eric Gregory said the prestigious event is known for its intimate celebration of the industry’s most revered champions and attracts dignitaries from around the country.

“While we are encouraged with vaccination rates and declining cases in Kentucky, the KDA Board of Directors does not want to diminish this elite event or take a chance and possibly endanger any of our industry’s legends, their families and friends,” Gregory said.

“We talked about virtual, but it would lose too much of the event’s prestige and intimacy.

“The Hall of Fame is one of our industry’s most cherished events when we all come together and commend the storied legacies and achievements of these iconic individuals. We look forward to holding a proper, in-person ceremony next year.”

The awards are normally handed out in Bardstown during the week of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Though the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame ceremony has been canceled the 2021 Kentucky Bourbon Festival is moving forward full steam ahead with a completely redesigned in-person event. You can learn more about the 2021 Kentucky Bourbon Festival here.

Will the 2022 Event Include Awards for 2020, 2021 and 2022?

Distillery Trail reached out to Gregory to find out if there would be multiple awards given out at the 2022 in-person event. Kentucky Distillers’ Association normally votes annually on the nominations before announcing the winners. The decision to cancel the event was made prior to any voting so there is no backlog of awards waiting to be handed out.

Candidates may be nominated each year by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, its member distilleries and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival from four categories including Industry, Journalism, Roll of Honor and Lifetime Achievement. Nominees are then sent to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors for final selection.

We certainly look forward to having this event live and in person in 2022. In the meantime let’s take a walk down memory lane and celebrate those that have won these prestigious awards over the last several years.

Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame - 2019 Inductees with Previous Winners
Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame – 2019 Inductees with Previous Winners

Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Winners Over the Years

Until next year. Cheers!

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