Eight more luminaries of the American whiskey industry have been inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
Created by the Kentucky Distillers' Association (KDA) in 2001, the Hall of Fame recognises individuals and organisations that have had a significant impact on the prominence, growth, and awareness of bourbon. The annual induction event is hosted in conjunction with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
A record 300 guests attended the luncheon at Log Still Distillery in Nelson County at which this year's inductees were announced. They included distillery founders, a whiskey activist, and the first father and son to receive the honour in the same class.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear attended the event and congratulated the inductees and their collective efforts on behalf of the state's whiskey industry and communities.
“Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry employs thousands of our people to produce a product that is known and loved around the world,” Gov. Beshear said. “The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame ceremony is a great chance to celebrate this industry and the innovators whose vision keeps pushing Kentucky Bourbon to new heights.”
KDA president Eric Gregory said: “The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame is always my favourite event of the year. It’s the one time where we all gather together to share our successes and toast the lives, legacies and journeys of those who have forever changed our timeless craft and played a major role in building a stronger Kentucky for generations to come.
“On behalf of the KDA, we offer our deepest thanks and heartfelt gratitude to this year’s inductees for their distinguished service to our industry and our beloved Commonwealth. We are an industry built on friendship and collaboration, and this year’s class is a testament to that tradition.”
This year’s inductees are:
- – Dr Jerry O. Dalton, who worked as a chemist for Barton Brands before moving to Jim Beam where he spent 12 years, finishing out his career as master distiller succeeding the legendary Booker Noe.
- – The late Dixie Sherman Demuth, owner of 1950s bar Dixie’s Elbow Room, who fought in the Kentucky Court of Appeals to overturn a 200-year-old law which prohibited women from serving and enjoying alcohol in a bar.
- – Former three-term mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer who coined and promoted 'bourbonism', a hospitality movement focused on Louisville’s leading position in the bourbon, tourism, and local food scenes.
- – Pete Kamer, a 45-year industry veteran with Seagram's and Barton Distillery whose retirement project, his consultancy business Distillery Engineering, has helped launched dozens of distilling companies.
- – Joseph J. Magliocco, president and CEO of Michter's Distillery, who resurrected the historic brand and brought it to Kentucky, helping to kickstart the Whiskey Row renaissance in downtown Louisville.
- – Dean Watts, the longest serving judge-executive in Nelson County history who fostered a hospitable economic environment for the bourbon industry and welcomed several new distilleries during his 28 years in office.
- – Chester ‘Chet’ Zoeller, author of the seminal historical text Bourbon in Kentucky (a comprehensive publication of his research into the industry that cataloged nearly 1,000 distillers and brands) and co-founder of Jefferson's Bourbon.
- – Trey Zoeller, who co-founded Jefferson's Bourbon with his father Chester in 1997 and is now the company's whiskey maker and chief strategist, using unique blending and maturation techniques to makes its bourbons and ryes.
Candidates are nominated each year by the KDA and its member distilleries. A blue-ribbon committee – including all living recipients of the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award – reviews and selects applicants in three categories: Industry, Roll of Honour, and Lifetime Achievement.
Representatives of the prestigious Parker Beam award include 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.
Other member of the 2023 selection committee were Chris Morris, governor of the Order of the Writ and master distiller emeritus at Brown-Forman; Kevin Smith, immediate past chairman of the KDA board and vice president of Kentucky bourbon affairs for Beam Suntory; and author Dixie Hibbs of Bardstown.
Pictured above, from left to right: (Back) Joseph J. Magliocco, Dean Watts, Dinah Tischy (daughter of the late Dixie Sherman Demuth), Trey Zoeller, Chester 'Chet' Zoeller, Greg Fischer, and Pete Kamer. (Front) Suzanne Schrecker (daughter of the late Dixie Sherman Demuth), and Jerry O. Dalton.