Bourbon Hall of Fame inducts new membersBy Amy Hopkins
Buffalo Trace tour guide Freddie Johnson, Beam Suntory CEO Matt Shattock and the late Alltech founder Dr Pearse Lyons have joined industry luminaries in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
Max L Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Brands, also received the prestigious Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the Heaven Hill master distiller emeritus who died in 2017.
Shapira has spent 48 years at Heaven Hill, his family’s business that has become the the largest independent, family-owned and operated company in the industry.
“Max Shapira has played a crucial role in the boom that our entire industry is enjoying,” said Rob Samuels, chief operating officer for Maker’s Mark and chairman of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s (KDA) board of directors.
“His guidance and expansion of his family’s business has helped whole generations of customers discover and appreciate Bourbon and other high quality spirits. That’s been a benefit for the whole [Kentucky] Commonwealth.”
Freddie Johnson left a successful career as a network/operations engineer in Atlanta to join Buffalo Trace in 2002 after promising his father he would do so, meaning three generations of Johnsons have worked at the Frankfort, Kentucky, distillery.
He is known for weaving his childhood memories together with the distillery’s extensive history during his tours.
“The Hall of Fame is a great honour and only fitting for it to be bestowed on Freddie,” said Matt Higgins, visitor centre manager at Buffalo Trace. “We’ve known and our guests have known for years what a special individual Freddie is; it’s so nice he’s being officially recognised for his dedication to the craft.”
Fellow inductee Matt Shattock joined Beam Global Spirits & Wine, then part of Fortune Brands, as president and CEO in 2009. He became chairman and CEO of Beam Suntory upon its formation in 2014.
Dr Pearse Lyons, who died in March this year, was posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. He was the founder and president of US company Alltech, under which he launched the Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co and Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery in Kentucky, and the new Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin, Ireland.
“This year’s class truly shows the diversity of personas behind the growing golden age of Kentucky Bourbon, from a beloved tour guide whose wisdom and personality embodies and elevates our visitors’ experience, to the leadership and passion of three top executives who have forged the path to our current success,” said Eric Gregory, president of the KDA.
“Each, in their own way, has forever transformed our signature spirit. We are eternally grateful for their remarkable achievements, dedication and commitment to our timeless craft, and for that we offer our heartfelt thanks.”
Created by the KDA in conjunction with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in 2001, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame recognises individuals and organisations that have made a significant positive impact on the Bourbon industry.