Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame will induct eight individuals into its elite ranks this fall, including distillery founders and craftsmen, influential government leaders, a groundbreaking activist and the first father and son to share the prestigious honor in the same class. 

“We are excited to announce this year’s esteemed group of visionaries, artisans, innovators and disruptors that have made transformative contributions to Kentucky Bourbon and our beloved Commonwealth,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. 

“On behalf of our signature industry, we offer congratulations to these distinguished honorees and a heartfelt thank you. We look forward to officially welcoming them into the hallowed ranks of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in September.” 

This year’s inductees are:

  • Dr. Jerry O. Dalton, retired Master Distiller, Jim Beam. A 22-year industry veteran, Dalton worked as a chemist for Barton Brands before moving to Jim Beam, where he spent 12 years finishing his career as Master Distiller succeeding the legendary Booker Noe. 
  • The late Mrs. Dixie Sherman Demuth, Owner of Dixie’s Elbow Room. A bar owner in the 1950s, Demuth took her fight for women’s rights to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which overturned a 200-year-old law to allow women to serve and enjoy alcohol in a public bar. 
  • Mr. Greg Fischer, former Mayor of Louisville, Ky. As a three-term mayor, Fischer is hailed for coining and promoting “Bourbonism,” a burgeoning hospitality movement focused on Louisville’s leading position in the Bourbon, tourism and local food scenes.
  • Mr. Pete Kamer, Owner, Distillery Engineering. After retiring from a 45-year industry career with Seagram’s and Barton Distillery, Kamer started a leading consulting business that has helped launch dozens of distilling companies, including many Kentucky craft distilleries.
  • Mr. Joseph J. Magliocco, President & CEO, Michter’s Distillery. Celebrating an industry career that spans 40 years, Magliocco resurrected the storied Michter’s brand and brought it to Kentucky, helping to lead the Whiskey Row renaissance in downtown Louisville.
  • Mr. Dean Watts, Former Nelson County Judge-Executive. As the longest-serving judge-executive in Nelson County history, Watts created a hospitable economic environment for the industry to flourish and welcomed several new distilleries during his 28 years in office.
  • Mr. Chester ‘Chet’ Zoeller, Author, Historian and Co-founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon. After years of research, Zoeller wrote Bourbon in Kentucky, a comprehensive publication of his findings, cataloging nearly 1,000 distillers and brands across the Bluegrass State.
  • Mr. Trey Zoeller, Founder, Whiskey Maker & Chief Strategist, Jefferson’s Bourbon. Since founding Jefferson’s Bourbon in 1997, Trey has developed dozens of award-winning Bourbon and rye expressions using unique blending and maturation techniques.

The KDA created the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2001 to recognize 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.

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 – painstakingly reviews and selects applicants for induction. 

The invitation-only ceremony will be held Wednesday, Sept. 13, at The Legacy at Dant Crossing in Nelson County, Ky. The intimate event, known for attracting the industry’s most revered legends and champions, is held annually with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.

Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured industries, a booming $9 billion economic and tourism powerhouse sustaining more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.23 billion each year and paying over $285 million in local and state taxes and $1.8 billion in federal alcohol taxes, respectively.

A key export, the iconic industry is currently in the middle of a $5.2 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. 

Production of Kentucky Bourbon has soared more than 475% since the turn of the century. 

Kentucky now boasts more than 11.4 million barrels of Bourbon aging in warehouses across the Bluegrass, the most in its revered distilling history. Distillers filled more than 2.6 million barrels in 2022 alone, the fourth year in a row that production topped the 2 million mark.

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