The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today announced that Kevin Smith of Beam Suntory has been elected chairman of the 141-year-old non-profit trade group that unites, promotes and protects the state’s bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
Smith, who is Vice President of Kentucky Bourbon Affairs, will begin his term Jan. 1, 2022, and serve through December 2022.
The KDA Board of Directors elected officers during its annual meeting earlier this month.
“I am very honored to be selected as the next KDA Board Chair and look forward to working with our Board of Directors, members, and KDA staff to ensure the continued growth of the Kentucky Bourbon industry,” says Smith.
“We are stronger when we work together, and I am confident that we can build on our past success as we focus on becoming a more diverse and sustainable industry, building a strong foundation that will ensure Kentucky’s bourbon legacy for generations to come,” he adds.
Smith is a 33-year veteran of Kentucky’s bourbon industry. A former master distiller for Maker’s Mark, Smith currently works with state, local and civic leaders, as well as supporting large and small charities throughout the regional area on behalf of Beam Suntory.
The Board also named Chris Morris, Vice President and Master Distiller for Brown-Forman as Vice Chairman; Jessica Pendergrass, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer for Heaven Hill as Secretary; and Ryan Ashley, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Distillery Operations at Four Roses as Treasurer.
Other Board members for 2022 include:
- Bardstown Bourbon Co.: Mark Erwin, President and Chief Executive Officer
- Castle & Key Distillery: Will Arvin, Co-Founder
- Diageo North America: Pauline Rooney, Vice President of Distillation, Maturation and Engineering
- Green River Distilling Co.: Jacob Call, Master Distiller and Director of Operations
- Louisville Distilling Co.: Wes Henderson, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer
- Lux Row Distillers: Eri Lapish, Vice President of Human Resources
- Michter’s Distillery: Joseph Magliocco, President
- Rabbit Hole Distillery: Kaveh Zamanian, Founder, Whiskey Maker & CEO
- Wild Turkey: Marco Barassi, Government Relations and Sustainability Director, North America
- Wilderness Trail Distillery: Shane Baker, Co-Founder & CEO
- Willett Distillery: Britt Kulsveen, President
- Proof Director: Mark Coffman, Master Distiller, Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company
- Craft Director: Paul Tomaszewski, Co-Founder, MB Roland Distillery.
KDA President Eric Gregory applauded the board members for their leadership in yet another challenging year navigating pandemic surges, workforce shortages and market uncertainty. Gregory also pointed out that KDA gained 10 new distilling members and 15 partner members in 2021.
“It is truly a pleasure to work with a group of visionaries who consistently prioritize the needs of the industry as a whole in securing Kentucky as the global leader in Bourbon and distilled spirits,” says Gregory, who is entering his 15th year as KDA President.
“Monumental accomplishments like eliminating the E.U. tariffs on American whiskey and continuing to position Kentucky as a model for direct-to-consumer shipping shows the strength of a united and passionate industry,” he adds. “I look forward to working with Chairman Smith and our Board of Directors as we continue to responsibly and sustainably elevate Kentucky’s legacy as the one, true home for Bourbon.”
The KDA was founded in 1880. It consists of a diverse group of members and distilleries, from global brands to emerging micro distilleries.