Posts Tagged Bill Samuels

Bill Samuels, Jr. Stepping Down as Pres. of Maker’s Mark

Loretto, KY (January 12, 2011) – In April of this year, Bill Samuels, Jr., will retire as President of Maker’s Mark®,the world’s oldest operating bourbon distillery and a National Historic Landmark, and transition into the new role of Chairman Emeritus for the iconic global brand. His son, Rob Samuels, who was appointed Chief Operating Officer in October 2010, will lead the Maker’s Mark organization going forward. The announcement was made by Matthew J. Shattock, President & Chief Executive Officer of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.

“Bill Samuels reinvented the way bourbon was marketed at a time when the industry needed it most,” Shattock said. “He forever changed the bourbon industry while building Maker’s Mark into a global brand and staying true to his family’s commitment to handcraftsmanship. We’re pleased that Rob Samuels, as Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer, will follow in his footsteps, as Bill travels throughout the world on behalf of the brand as Chairman Emeritus.”

Bill Samuels, Jr., has been at the helm of Maker’s Mark for 35 years, and has overseen the growth of the brand from a Kentucky “cult” bourbon into a national icon that gave rise to the modern era of bourbon.  Mr. Samuels is the son of Maker’s Mark Founder, Bill Samuels, Sr., and the seventh generation to continue the family’s tradition of bourbon making first started in Kentucky by Robert Samuels in 1784.  Since taking over the business from his father in 1975, Maker’s Mark has experienced double-digit growth year-on-year, and the Maker’s Mark Distillery has become one of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 100,000 visitors annually from the world over.

“A lot has changed in the spirits industry since we first started selling Maker’s Mark, but I’ve made sure all along that the way we craft our bourbon has remained the same as when we first started,” said Mr. Samuels.  “Our heritage and craft is what makes us unique and ensures our quality.”

Samuels continued, “Now that we’ve achieved the milestone of one million cases as a brand, it’s the perfect time to transition the day-to-day running of Maker’s Mark to Rob, who will carry on our family traditions. I look forward to taking on this new role and meeting with our brand fans in markets around the world.”

Bill Samuels, Jr., will officially step down as President and transition to Chairman Emeritus on Friday, April 15th during the Maker’s Mark Mile, a Grade-1 thoroughbred horserace held at the historic Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Ky., which will be the 15th and last year for the running of the race.  A private event will be held the following day at the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., for brand Ambassadors and invited guests to celebrate the retirement of the venerable bourbon baron.

Together with his father, Bill Samuels, Jr., created the premium bourbon category.  A true pioneer and innovator, Mr. Samuels has forged a rich and enduring legacy, without ever intending to do so.  From the brand’s tongue-in-cheek advertising campaigns, to the industry pioneering brand Ambassador Program and the engaging Distillery visitor experience, Mr. Samuels helped transform Maker’s Mark from a bourbon into a lifestyle.  Last summer, Mr. Samuels introduced what may well become one of his most defining contributions, Maker’s 46, the highly acclaimed first new bourbon from the Maker’s Mark Distillery in 52 years.

Growing up the son of a bourbon maker, and with Jim Beam as his godfather, everyone expected Mr. Samuels to work in the whisky industry.  Always the contrarian and, to the surprise and consternation of many friends and family, Mr. Samuels decided to pursue other interests.  He studied rocket science at the Case Institute of Technology and UC Berkley, and then went on to Vanderbilt University, where he earned a law degree before eventually deciding to join the family business and take on the marketing and promotion of what was then an emerging local “cult” bourbon.

Said Mr. Samuels, “My career has been an incredible journey and, over the last 43 years, I have always stayed true to my fundamental belief that the most successful way to build Maker’s Mark is one brand fan at a time and to let brand fans become our most influential advocates.  I have no doubt that the future of Maker’s Mark is in the best of hands with Rob at the helm as COO and that the best is yet to come as the brand’s popularity continues to swell both in the U.S. and internationally.”

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Maker’s Mark Introduces First New Bourbon in 52 Years

Loretto, KY (June 30, 2010) – Maker’s Mark is once again bringing innovation to the Bourbon industry with today’s release of the company’s first ever new Bourbon, Maker’s 46. In celebration, Maker’s Mark President Bill Samuels, Jr., continuing in the tradition his father began, hand-dipped and sealed ceremonial bottles of Maker’s 46 Bourbon in the brand’s iconic red wax with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear at the historic Maker’s Mark Distillery.

Maker’s 46 is a handcrafted, full-bodied Bourbon whisky that starts off as original Maker’s Mark. The transformation into Maker’s 46 begins when fully matured Maker’s Mark is emptied from the barrel so that 10 seared French oak staves can be affixed to the sides. Then, Maker’s Mark, which is made with red winter wheat for a smooth taste, is put back in the barrel and aged for several more months, allowing the natural caramel, vanilla and spice flavors released by the staves to enhance the end product.

“This new expression is a breakthrough in the contemporary craft of bourbon,” stated Mr. Samuels. “We have used innovative techniques never before employed by the Bourbon industry to create a full-bodied bourbon without any bitterness.”

The creation of Maker’s 46 was a collaborative effort between Bill Samuels, Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Kevin Smith, and Barrel Maker and

“Wood Chef” Brad Boswell of Independent Stave Company. Samuels and Smith started with a clear idea of how they wanted the new bourbon to taste – full-bodied without any bitterness – and turned to Boswell to help develop the recipe.  They knew this would be no easy task, if it could be done at all.

After much experimenting, Boswell decided to try a searing technique on French oak staves that had never been used before to make bourbon.  He delicately seared the staves just enough so that the caramel and vanilla flavors from it were released and only a small amount of tannin, which adds bitterness, came out of the wood. The name Maker’s 46 comes from the profile number Boswell assigned to this winning “wood recipe.”

Samuels notes, “Over the years whisky consumers’ palates have moved toward bigger and bolder flavors. So, I wanted to craft a contemporary interpretation of Maker’s Mark that matched with current tastes, but didn’t want to mess up what my father had created or disenfranchise any of our loyal fans.”

Kevin Smith adds, “Maker’s 46 is spicier and has a more intense aroma than Maker’s Mark. It has rich caramel and vanilla flavors, and even at 94 proof it’s soft enough to hold on the tongue. You can drink it on its own or mix it into a cocktail.”

Initial reactions from Bourbon experts to Maker’s 46 have been positive. Malt Advocate Publisher and Editor, John Hansell has noted in his review, “The French Oak staves in ‘46’ add firm, complex, dry spices (lead by warming cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and clove)…which dovetails well with Maker’s trademark layered sweetness.”

Additionally, Charles K. Cowdery, Editor-in-Chief of The Bourbon Country Reader – a publication dedicated exclusively to American whiskey – says, “Compared to standard Maker’s, there is less citrus and more fudge. It is very, very good.” Jose Garces, Owner of Garces Restaurant Group and Food Network Iron Chef, has also reviewed the Bourbon and states, “… I really enjoy its fruit-forward notes with flavors of vanilla and caramel lingering from the aging process. The finish is extraordinarily smooth and the flavor pleasantly stayed on my palate.”

Only 25,000 cases of Maker’s 46 will be shipped by the distillery this year, making bottles of this first batch a rare commodity. The new Kentucky straight bourbon whisky will be sold in 750ml bottles and retail for approximately $10 more than Maker’s Mark (prices vary state to state).

For more information about Maker’s 46 and Maker’s Mark, go to www.makersmark.com (must be 21 years of age or older), or visit Maker’s Mark on Twitter and Facebook.

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New Maker’s Mark Expression Coming Soon

The rumors about the new Maker’s Mark bourbon have been flying for some time now. Bill Samuels has finally addressed the matter in the latest news to Ambassadors and Kevin Smith posted proof info and tasting notes to the Maker’s Mark Blog. See the letter and posts below:

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Dear Ambassador,

Some of you may have heard the rumor that Kevin Smith, Master Distiller for Maker’s Mark, has been working on a secret project here at the distillery. You heard right.

After years of prodding from Maker’s Mark brand friends, bourbon lovers, taste-makers and, yes, even you Ambassadors, Kevin and I looked at each other and said, “Well, let’s see what we can do.”

Make no mistake, we weren’t interested in finding which barrel held at the right light on the proper floor of a special warehouse could be packaged and shipped to stores nationwide. What we were trying to do was go after a specific taste. We had very narrow parameters and went after this new idea the way my dad did when he burned the old Samuels’ family mash bill and created Maker’s Mark.

Almost a year and a half later, Kevin comes back to me and says he thinks he’s done it.

Boy, has he ever.  Totally amazing new stuff. I mean wow. WOW!

The first step is to get blow back from the bourbon opinionaters, journalists, spirits bloggers, whisky club organizers and, yes, from our Ambassadors. Think of this as either a gut-check or, more bluntly as a disaster check.

Here’s where our taste-making Ambassadors come in. You have already received your invite to Thoroughbreds and Redheads weekend, April 9 and 10. I want you to know that we’ll be sampling our new product at the distillery for the first time on April 10, Ambassador Homecoming Day. Even if you decide not to spend the whole weekend with us, we hope you’ll join us for this momentous occasion.

Cheers!
Bill

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Dear Friends,

I am very excited to let everyone in on a little secret. We have been experimenting with a few things down here at the distillery, and we think we have stumbled onto a bourbon expression worth telling you about. The flavor is incredible. It has an intense, sweet, oaky toast aroma and, at 94 proof, it is unbelievably smooth.

Our new baby is a real revolution, with no alcohol nose or taste, and the big, bold flavors come through without a bitter aftertaste. Imagine oak-sweet vanillas, creamy flavors and a long and luscious texture that coats the front of the tongue. Let me say it this way: the taste is pleasingly intense!

Brad Boswell, President of Independent Stave, and I collaborated to create a process that would marry the flavor of Maker’s Mark with the unique flavors found when oak is heated sizzling hot, blistering the wood on the outside, while locking in the flavor in the middle.

It’s really something folks. I’ve been working on this for a year and a half, and it absolutely defies description. I guess that’s why we’re having such a hard time figuring out what to call it.

I’ll let Bill and the marketing “gurus” work that out.

Kevin D. Smith, Maker’s Mark Master Distiller

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