Celebrating whiskey excellence
The Icons of Whisky awards are intent on finding the very best people, products and places within the world of whisk(e)y. They celebrate the hard work and ingenuity that goes into every bottle, the stories behind each brand, retailers who open the world up to consumers, and the bars that provide wonderful settings for whisk(e)y lovers to discover new favourites.
Since their inception, these awards have highlighted the heart-warming camaraderie between whisk(e)y professionals – one of the many aspects that makes it such a wonderful industry to work within.
Distiller of the Year
Heaven Hill Brands
Heaven Hill Brands is a family owned producer of Bourbon and premium American whiskey. In 2014, the company incorporated the word ‘Brands’ into its name and logo to mark its evolution from a whiskey producer to a leading supplier of distilled spirits. Heaven Hill Brands supplies a vast range of spirits and liqueurs with world famous Bourbons such as Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Parker’s Heritage Collection among its portfolio. The involvement of the Shapira and Beam families has helped the company to retain its family values and independence in order to produce and market high quality spirits worldwide.
Brand Innovator of the Year
In 1795, Jacob Beam distilled his family’s first batch of Bourbon. More than 200 years and seven generations of Beam distillers later, Jim Beam is a world famous Bourbon. Not much has changed over the last two decades – same recipe, same traditions, and same level of craftsmanship – but along the way, Jim Beam has made history thanks to innovation. Through its original ‘white label’ product to its premium expressions such as Jim Beam Black and Devil’s Cut and its flavoured offerings such as Red Stag, Jim Beam continues to introduce ‘America’s Native Spirit’ to the world.
Corsair Artisan Distillery
Visitor Attraction of the Year
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, located on Louisville’s historic ‘Whiskey Row’, celebrates the legacy of Kentucky distiller Evan Williams. Complete with an artisanal distillery, guided tours and educational tastings, this popular tourist attraction is a great day out whether a Bourbon enthusiast or a visitor to the area. The experience takes you back to 1783 to get a taste for life and distilling as it was in the Republic at that time. Watch Bourbon being produced and understand more about the process during a tour where you will also have an opportunity to taste premium Bourbon. The Retail Store offers a selection of signature souvenirs.
Craft Producer of the Year
Founded in 2010 in Seattle, Washington, Westland Distillery mashes, distils, matures and bottles American single malt whiskey in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. The distillery’s three core expressions, American Single Malt, Peated Malt and Sherry Wood, bring a new and distinctly American voice to the world of single malt whiskey. The distillery is located in the SoDo neighbourhood where you can go along and visit the 13,000 square feet site. Tours run four days per week and will give you all the information you need on the production process of American single malt whiskey.
Master Distiller / Master Blender of the Year
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Harlen’s formal education in chemical engineering brought him to Buffalo Trace when he joined as a supervisor in 1995. He continued to make his mark as he was promoted to Distillery Manager in 2000 and was named Master Distiller in 2005, becoming Buffalo Trace’s sixth Master Distiller since the Civil War. Harlen has driven many initiatives, including solidifying standards and consistency, quality focus and efficiency gains. He is responsible for many distilling operations for the Sazerac Company, all while promoting and educating on Bourbon.
Greg Davis, Maker’s Mark
Distillery Manager of the Year
Woodford Reserve Distillery
Todd Roe, Distillery Manager at Woodford Reserve, has worked in the spirits industry for 25 years. He worked at the Brown-Forman Cooperage before moving on to the Louisville Production Operation, where he was Operations Manager for Jack Daniel’s County Cocktails. Years later, Todd worked at the Brown-Forman Distillery where he managed barrel maturation warehouses. Under Todd’s watchful eye, Woodford Reserve has introduced many unique products such as Double Oaked and Woodford Reserve Rye.
Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Maker’s Mark
David Perkins, High West Distillery
Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year
Woodford Reserve Distillery
With a dedication to hospitality, brand building, and culinary endeavours that span more than 20 years, Dee Ford delivers state-of-the art consumer experiences. Now in her 11th year with Brown-Forman Corporation, Dee currently serves as Homeplace Manager for the company’s Woodford Reserve Distillery, located in Versailles, Kentucky. In this role, Dee establishes and oversees the various elements of the distillery’s entire visitor strategy, including multiple tour programs as well as the visitor centre, gift shop, catering, community relations, marketing, and special events.
Matt Higgins, Buffalo Trace Distillery
American Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year
Heaven Hill Brands
In his role as American Whiskey Brand Ambassador, Bernie Lubbers further enhances the ascending profile of the Heaven Hill American Whiskey Collection among both consumers and trade. He educates on history, production, laws and standards of the products in the Heaven Hill American Whiskey family. He concentrates on Heaven Hill’s speciality Bourbons including Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage and Elijah Craig. Before joining Heaven Hill, Bernie spent seven years in the supplier tier implementing training and educational programs. He is widely known as ‘The Whiskey Professor.’
Adam Harris, Beam Suntory
Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Simon is a well-known expert on Scotch whisky having worked for many of the leading Scotch distilleries, learning the art and science of distilling from the world’s foremost master distillers and blenders. For nearly 20 years, Simon has led thousands of Scotch whisky tastings for consumers, bartenders and social organisations. Informative and entertaining, his presentations have made him an in-demand spokesperson for the whisky industry.
Gregor Cattanach, Diageo North America
Chris Riesbeck, Classic Imports (G&M and Benromach)
Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year
As far as whiskey experts go, they don’t come more ‘Irish True’ than US Tullamore D.E.W. Ambassador Tim Herlihy. Tim began his whiskey career with the Cooley Distillery and has travelled to numerous distilleries across Ireland, and beyond, studying firsthand the history of whiskey and the entire production process. In his role as Tullamore D.E.W. Ambassador, Tim has presented at numerous whiskey and cocktail shows. A natural raconteur and never at a loss for a toast, Tim travels the US educating, entertaining and sharing his passion for Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey.
John Cashman, Beam Suntory
World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year
Diageo North America
Ewan Morgan grew up on a distillery in Speyside and worked there to help out his family of distillers. Ewan is third generation whisky with his father and grandfather working their entire careers in the industry. He has travelled all over the world imparting his knowledge on production and on whisky styles. Currently living in the US, Ewan not only works as an ambassador for Diageo’s brands but also works as the National Director for Diageo’s ‘Masters of Whisky’ program. Ewan spends 70 per cent of his time travelling nationally to promote Diageo’s portfolio.
Allison Patel, Brenne
Multiple Outlet Retailer of the Year
For over 40 years, Liquor Barn has strived to bring customers a large selection of beer, wine and spirits in Kentucky. Living in the state that makes 90 per cent of the world’s Bourbon, whiskey is always going to be a big focus, and Liquor Barn’s customers can find hundreds of brands from around the world. The stores offer a unique opportunity to shop from an extensive collection of privately selected products chosen by spirits specialists. It is not uncommon to find one of the great Bourbon makers in a Liquor Barn store signing bottles. With 15 locations throughout Kentucky, Liquor Barn is a must stop for whiskey lovers.
Binny’s Beverage Depot
Single Outlet Retailer of the Year
Astor Wines & Spirits
Astor Wines & Spirits is an independent, family-owned wine and spirits retailer operating in New York City since 1946. Located in the historic DeVinne Press Building at 399 Lafayette Street, it provides a unique experience for customers visiting the large store. With a selection of nearly 5,000 wines and spirits on offer, and knowledgeable and helpful staff, you are sure to find what you are after. Astor Wines & Spirits has a dedicated ‘Cool Room’ to ensure products are stored in optimum conditions as well as a tastings timetable where customers can sample a dram for free.
Park Avenue Liquor Shop
Online Retailer of the Year
Binny’s Beverage Depot
Wine and spirits retailer Binny’s Beverage Depot is located in the Midwest with over six decades of history in the Chicago area. Binny’s is in a period of huge growth, with several new stores opening soon. The chain’s 31 Illinois locations boast nearly 5,000 different spirits, including an impressive collection of handpicked selections spearheaded by the industry-leading Whiskey Hotline. The superb online store offers a huge selection of world whiskies and gift ideas for that special occasion. If you can’t find it at a Binny’s, it’s probably not worth drinking!
Travel Retailer of the Year
Duty Free Americas
Duty Free Americas is an operator of duty-free shops in the western hemisphere. Offering a vast range of products from the finest brand names, including some of the most exclusive whisky releases, the Travel Retail provider offers a high quality shopping experience for business and holiday travellers alike. The company was purchased by brothers Simon, Jerome and Leon Falic on 11 October 2001. Duty Free Americas has its headquarters in Hollywood, Florida, with numerous operating divisions.
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