Old Forester Distillery - Brand Ambassador and Master Taster Melissa Rift

Old Forester Distillery located on Whiskey Row in LouisvilleKentucky has announced that Kentucky native Melissa Rift has been named Brand Ambassador and Master Taster for this historic brand. The role of Master Taster was previously held by Jackie Zykan who was in a similar role for the last seven years.

The company says Rift will help continue the revitalization of Old Forester, the only bourbon to exist before, during and after Prohibition and the founding brand of Brown-Forman.

“Melissa brings a dynamic personality, a devotion to the bourbon industry and an enthusiasm for the rich heritage of our 152-year-old brand,” said Mark Bacon, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Super-Premium American Whiskey. “We’re thrilled to welcome her to the Brown-Forman family and are excited for her insights to amplify this new chapter in Old Forester’s legacy.” 

This announcement marks a milestone and dream come true for Rift, who gained a holistic understanding of the growing bourbon industry from her beginnings as a bourbon tour guide. Most recently, she held a leadership role at Beam Suntory and previously served as Single Barrel Program Director at Bulleit Distilling Co.

Its good to see someone come up through the ranks in the bourbon industry from tour guide at a distillery to tour guide with Mint Julep Experiences to single barrel program director and now to Old Forester Brand Ambassador and Master Taster.

“As the country’s first bottled bourbon, Old Forester has such a history –  but also an opportunity to usher in a new era for the entire industry,” Rift said. “There’s nothing better in the market than Old Forester – and I look forward to introducing more people to this authentic  brand.”

Old Forester Distillery - Brand Ambassador and Master Taster Melissa Rift
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Old Forester Brand Ambassador and Master Taster Melissa Rift.

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Born in Louisville, Rift authentically understands the rich culture of Kentucky bourbon and looks forward to sharing it with consumers, bartenders, media – and diverse consumers across the nation. She and her wife, Brittany, live in Louisville with their two dogs and two cats.

“I’m extremely excited to create a more inclusive bourbon industry to reflect the changing face of our beloved consumers and represent the Old Forester legacy so many love,” Rift said.

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Learn more about Old Forester Distillery.
View all Louisville Distilleries.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
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Old Forester Distillery - The 117 Series, Whiskey Row Fire Selected by Master Taster Jackie Zykan
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