Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

Old Forester announced that Kentucky native Melissa Rift has been named Brand Ambassador/Master Taster. Replacing Jackie Zykan that departed early this year. 

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

“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.”

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.

For more information on Old Forester, please visit

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