Hall of Fame

Al Young

Inductee No. 26

Al Young

Four Roses
Brand Ambassador

Four Roses Brand Ambassador Al Young has a wealth of industry knowledge and experience that spans four decades.

Al began his career in the distilling industry in 1967 in the Quality Department of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc. He moved into management with Seagram’s in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Al worked in their Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery as a Shift Supervisor and when the Louisville plant closed in 1983, he was transferred to Seagram’s Lawrenceburg, Indiana distillery. In 1990, Al moved back to the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky facility, where he served as a Distillery Manager for 17 years, prior to becoming Brand Ambassador in 2007.

In his role as Brand Ambassador, Al handles a variety of Marketing and PR responsibilities including distributor sales training, external website email management, VIP distillery tours and is the company liaison for numerous charitable events.

He is also tasked with preserving the Four Roses history and archives, as well as frequently travelling to develop and foster account relationships across the US. And if that isn’t enough, in 2010 Al wrote a book on the history of Four Roses entitled Four Roses, The Return of a Whiskey Legend.

In his ‘spare time’, Al enjoys watercolour painting, is a history buff and a voracious reader. He graduated from Western Kentucky University and did graduate work at Southern Illinois University. He and his wife of 47 years reside in Lexington, Kentucky. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Steve Beal

Inductee No. 25

Steve Beale

Senior Master of Whisky

Steve Beal was among the first of Diageo’s Masters of Whisky. Based in San Francisco, he led Diageo’s North American whisk(e)y efforts and is one of the chief reasons why Bulleit rose up from the shadows to become a behind-the-bar staple in bourbon and rye whiskey.

For more than two decades, Steve has been a behind-the-scenes salesman and brand advocate for Diageo products. But along the way, he became a mentor, helping to create the US Bartender’s Guild (USBG) Master Accreditation Program.

When asked why he started working in whiskey, he simply replies, “Because I loved it. I was working at a well known culinary school and one day got a call, ‘Stephen, put your kilt on, we need ya.’”

Before long he was working with his mentor, Evan Cattanach (Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame inductee in 2011) and was on his way towards a career in the world of whisky, ultimately including some of the world’s leading whisky brands: first, with Johnnie Walker, then the Classic Malts Selections, Bulleit Bourbon, George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, Bushmills and Diageo’s Orphan Barrel project. 

In addition to selling whiskey, Steve has written about distilled spirits and helped host a national syndicated radio program with Marcy Smothers and celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Arizona. Father Beal is an ordained Episcopal priest and received his graduate credentials in theology at Oxford University and his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In other words, Beal is a man of genuine spirit.

Edwin Foote

Inductee No. 22

Edwin Foote

Master Distiller
Old Fitzgerald Distillery

He has never had a Bourbon brand named after him; and until a recent Kentucky Derby Museum event, Foote only signed one bottle in his whole distilling career – that was for Julian Van Winkle.

Foote was the Master Distiller for the Old Fitzgerald Distillery, aka Stitzel-Weller, from 1982 to 1992, and the distiller at Bernheim facility until 1997. The distillate he perfected in his ten year Fitzgerald stretch is now regarded as some of the greatest Bourbon ever made. Some of his juice was used for Pappy Van Winkle.

“I would say that Ed Foote did the best job with what he had to work with there at Stitzel-Weller, meaning the water supply was different, as was the grain milling method, yeast Y distillation proofs and entry proofs were different than what was made there before 1972 (the year the Van Winkle’s sold the distillery), says Julian Van Winkle, President of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “He made our label famous as most of our popularity came while we were bottling whiskey he made. It was arguably the best on the planet according to some. I sure enjoyed it.”

Inducted into the Kentucky Distiller’s Association’s Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2008, Foote’s distilling career almost didn’t happen.

His professional life began as a teacher but he needed more money to support his growing family. So, in 1961, Foote answered a classified advertisement for a Seagram’s management training position. He won the job and was eventually promoted to beer chemist at the Henry McKenna Distillery.

Before long, Foote received an analytical position, overseeing the fermentation samples for Seagram’s five Kentucky distillers. In this job, Foote really learned how yeast impacted whiskey. “Human senses can be so acute. Seagram’s had a whole library of yeast. I could tell what were the samples based on the distiller’s yeast profile,” Foote says.

When he took the job at the Old Fitzgerald Distillery, Foote remembers that moment well: “It’s like I went to heaven.”

Parker Beam

Inductee No. 21

Parker Beam

Master Distiller
Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.

Heaven Hill Master Distiller and 2001 Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee Parker Beam carries one of Bourbon’s strongest legacies into the whiskey world. According to Heaven Hill, for more than half a century, Beam has been practicing his family’s craft for distilling, aging and selecting some of the world’s most critically acclaimed Bourbons.

Beam joined Heaven Hill in 1960, working alongside his father, Earl, who handed the Master Distiller duties over to Parker in 1975. Parker’s son, Craig, began working with him in 1983, forging one of the strongest family distilling histories that continues to thrive with every release of Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and of course, the beloved Parker’s Heritage series. It’s no secret that Heaven Hill and the Beam boys craft a shed load of whiskey brands, including Bernheim Straight Wheat Whiskey, Henry McKenna, Larceny, Fighting Cock and many others.

It’s also no secret how much Parker Beam is admired by the whiskey industry. When Parker was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the industry joined in support, raising money for ALS and always showing their public support.

“Parker is an icon who is treasured by his industry cohorts. For decades he has been an ambassador for all Kentucky Bourbons, and because of the outstanding person he is, Parker is also loved and respected by Bourbon enthusiasts and connoisseurs around the world,” says Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge. “He has played a major role in putting Kentucky Bourbon on a global map, and for me personally I feel honoured to have known Parker as a valued and dear friend for so many years.”

With the latest Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon, “The Promise of Hope,” Heaven Hill donates $20 from the sale of every bottle to the ALS Promise Fund –a campaign that will raise $250,000. This was Parker’s idea, proving the beloved man’s true legacy is only just beginning.

Jimmy Russell

Inductee No. 14

Jimmy Russell

Wild Turkey Distillery

Master distiller James C. “Jimmy” Russell knows Bourbon like he knows breathing. It’s fitting, then, that the longest-tenured master distiller in the Bourbon industry today is known as ‘the Buddha of Bourbon’.

Russell has been making whiskey at the Wild Turkey Distillery for 58 years. Growing up five miles from the distillery, he idolised his father and grandfather who taught him the traditions and techniques of Bourbon craftsmanship. His first position at the distillery was sweeping floors, but his dedication to the art of making great Bourbon has elevated him to the top of Kentucky’s most-treasured industry.

Jim Rutledge

Inductee No. 13

Jim Rutledge

Four Roses Distillery

Jim has been the master distiller at Four Roses since 1995. It’s a vocation that requires the use of every one of his considerable talents: from chemistry, artistry, and craftsmanship; to marketing and salesmanship.

His passion and knowledge, not just for Four Roses, but also for the entire Bourbon category is infectious. When you talk to him you get the sense he is willing to do whatever is necessary to create and produce a Bourbon with perfect consistency day after day.

He watches over the character, quality and consistency of each barrel. Every stage of the distillation process is critical and you’ll find Jim’s heart and soul in every one of them.

Elmer T. Lee

Inductee No. 11

Elmer T. Lee

Master distiller and brand ambassador
Buffalo Trace Distillery

Elmer is known throughout the industry for his expertise and knowledge of Bourbon whiskey. His career in Bourbon began after the Second World War when in September 1949 he began working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort.

In 1966, Elmer was promoted to plant superintendent, responsible for all plant operations and reporting to the plant manager. 1n 1969, he became plant manager.

Elmer retired in 1985, but continues to serve as ambassador for Buffalo Trace, educating the world on the unique qualities of Kentucky’s Bourbon whiskey.

It was in 1984 that Elmer introduced the single barrel bourbon concept to the world with Blanton’s single barrel Bourbon, named in honour of Col. Albert B. Blanton. He is also only one of three living master distillers who have a Bourbon whiskey named after them.

Jimmy Bedford

Inductee No. 4

Jimmy Bedford

Master Distiller
Jack Daniel’s

Whisky Magazine’s consultant Editor Dominic Roskrow explains why this stalwart distiller joins the hallowed ranks of Whisky Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement winners.

It takes a special person to become the master distiller at Jack Daniel’s.

For a starter, there have been only been six since the distillery was founded, including Jack himself and the legendary businessman Lem Motlow.

When Jimmy Bedford took on the role in 1988 he was inheriting some legacy. He has not only proved himself worthy of the challenge, but has played a major role in taking his whiskey to greater and greater heights.

Jimmy Bedford was brought up on a farm just outside Lynchburg, Tennessee, where the distillery is sited. He started working there in 1968, nearly 40 years ago, and worked in yeasting, fermenting, milling and distillation during the next 20 years, gaining invaluable insider knowledge of the Jack-making process.

His appointment to the master distiller’s job coincided with a phenomenal growth in demand for the whiskey and Jimmy has worked tirelessly both in maintaining the quality of the whiskey and in championing it across the world.

It’s not the easiest of jobs. The distillery sits in a dry county a few hours south of the whisky-making heartland of Kentucky. There is no whiskey community to fall back on, and because Jack Daniel’s isn’t a bourbon, the distiller there is treated as a distant relative in every sense.

No matter. In the years at the helm Jimmy has earned the respect of the industry by playing major part in taking a strong-tasting brown spirit to iconic status within the drinks world. And his whiskey-making skills have been recognized through the outstanding single barrel Jack Daniel’s releases that he has presided over.

Jimmy is a gentleman in the truest Southern sense of the word. He has Jack Daniel’s flowing through his veins. He has given his working life to a whiskey he loves.

For that alone I can think of no worthier winner of the Whisky Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.