Bill Samuels Jr. has been hailed as many things: a legend in the bourbon business, a maverick, one of the last true bourbon barons, a marketing genius, a visionary, and the best friend the Kentucky bourbon industry has ever had. Which is no surprise really, seen as Bill Jr. is the son of the Founder of Maker’s Mark.
In 1953, his father Bill Samuels Sr., received a clear message from his wife Margie – get out of the house and get a job! Forced with having to find something to do, Bill Sr. rekindled his interest in creating a different and better bourbon, and was driven to create a smoother style of whisky, distilling his first barrel of Maker’s Mark the following year. Using limestone water from the distillery’s spring-fed lake and a mash consisting of corn, barley and soft, red, gentle winter wheat, Samuels created a bourbon that brought “good taste” and “taste-good” together for the first time. Today, his son Bill Jr. is carrying on that tradition, visiting Australia in August to launch Maker’s 46 – the first new product from Maker’s Mark.
Bill Jr., also a former rocket scientist and lawyer, joined the distillation game in 1967, going on to be made president of Maker’s Mark by his father in 1975. Bill Jr. continues sharing his passion for the brand today in his position Chairman Emeritus and Ambassador-At-Large for the original handmade bourbon, having handed the business’s reins over to his own son, Rob Samuels, who was appointed Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer in 2010.
Bill family history is believed to be the longest distilling lineage in the world, and perhaps one of the best Grandfather, Father and son teams in history – an inspirational story this Father’s Day!
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