Kentucky Distillers's Association - Kentucky Distillers’ Association Honors Top Advocate With Prestigious “Esprit De Corps” Award

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association – KDA announced that Chris Nolan of MML&K Government Solutions is the recipient of this year’s award honoring industry leaders who personify the legendary group’s spirit of camaraderie and integrity. 

The esteemed Esprit de Corps Award can be bestowed by the KDA Board Chair to individuals who have, “by demonstrable and honorable action,” gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the mission of the KDA and Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry, KDA President Eric Gregory said. 

KDA Board Chairwoman Pauline Rooney conferred the award to Nolan last week at the KDA’s annual State Dinner at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Nelson County. Nolan, who has lobbied for the KDA for 12 years, received an engraved medal in recognition of his exceptional service. 

“This prestigious award recognizes the passion and commitment Chris has demonstrated over a number of years to the KDA and our industry,” Rooney said. “It is also an acknowledgement of the tenacity and dedication he displayed this year to keep the pace on our challenging legislative agenda in the ongoing Covid-19 environment.

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“The resulting achievements that continue to advance positive change in our policies and laws speak to Chris’s resilience and spirit of collaboration,” said Rooney, who is Vice President of Distillation and Maturation for Diageo North America. “Congratulations to Chris – and a heartfelt thanks.”

KDA President Gregory said, “Chris’s keen leadership paved the way for the passing of landmark legislation that has made Kentucky a model for spirits shipping and further modernized the state’s Prohibition-era laws and policies, which are longtime barriers to growth for Kentucky distillers.

“Accomplishments such as these take an extraordinary commitment of time, the ability to inspire collaboration and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity. Chris is in the trenches every day, guiding our efforts even during a global pandemic. This is a well-deserved honor.”

MML&K Government Solutions, founded by the late W. Terry McBrayer, is a bipartisan government relations firm with decades of government relations and lobbying experience located in Frankfort, the Capital City of Kentucky. 

Nolan, 53, of Louisville, utilizes his 21 years of lobbying experience to help lead MML&K’s diverse team of seven government affairs professionals representing dozens of clients in both business and politics.

The Board’s Resolution saluted Nolan for spending “countless hours tirelessly promoting and protecting the KDA’s legislative agenda across our beloved Commonwealth, including many long nights and weekends during the annual sessions of the General Assembly. 

“Mr. Nolan’s outstanding service and devotion has helped transform our industry from ‘sin’ to ‘signature’, and his overall support, guidance and assistance to the KDA and its members is duly and gratefully recognized by this honor.”

MML&K Government Relations - Chris Nolan
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MML&K Government Relations Chris Nolan.

“It was a surprise and humbling honor to be recognized for such a prestigious award,” Nolan said. 

“As a native Kentuckian, Bourbon runs in my blood and I have a true passion for Kentucky’s signature industry. We’ve accomplished so much over the last decade, but there is much more to do and I look forward to seeing how we can shape this next wave of Bourbon growth in Kentucky.” 

Founded in 1880, the KDA is the voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces the overwhelming majority of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic industries, a thriving $8.6 billion economic and tourism engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion each year, and accounts for over $300 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 $5.1 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 430% 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 last year alone, the third year in a row that production topped the two million mark. 

Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in the last 10 years. Total attendance in 2019 was nearly two million, the most since KDA founded the tours in 1999 and 2012, respectively. 

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