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Icons of Whisky America 2016

Whisky Magazine is set to celebrate the finest companies and individuals in the whisky industry with our annual Icons of Whisky awards, a highlight in the whisky calendar.

With new categories for this year, including Master Distiller / Master Blender, Travel Retailer and World Whisky Ambassador to name a few, there is no doubt that some new names will come in to the mix. 2015 saw the launch of a new nominations and voting process where we invited producers, retailers, distributors and importers to have their say and help our editorial panel identify those deserving of an Icons title. Now familiar with the online process, the industry has once again spoken and left us with the unenviable task of making the final decision.

Judged in three heats, America, Scotland and Rest of World, we are excited to bring you the results from the American stage of the awards and hope you will join us in celebrating the companies and individuals recognised in Icons of Whisky 2016. Look out for the winners of the Scotland stage on 4 December 2015.

American Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year

Bernie Lubbers - 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. In addition, he educates these parties on history, production, laws and standards of the products in the Heaven Hill American Whiskey family. He concentrates on Heaven Hill’s specialty Bourbons including Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, Elijah Craig, Parker’s Heritage Collection, Larceny, as well as critically-acclaimed Rittenhouse Rye, and Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey.

Before joining Heaven Hill, Bernie spent seven years in the supplier tier implementing special training and educational programs with consumers and trade. He is widely known as ‘The Whiskey Professor’.

Highly Commended
Adam Harris - Beam Suntory

Shortlist
Adam Harris - Beam Suntory
Al Young - Four Roses Bourbon
Bernie Lubbers - Heaven Hill Brands
Chad Robinson - Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
Douglas Kragel - Diageo North America
Emerson Lamb - Westland Distillery
Ewan Morgan - Diageo North America

Brand Innovator of the Year

Jim Beam (Beam Suntory)

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 one of the world’s most famous Bourbons. 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 breakthrough 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 Apple and Jim Beam Honey, Jim Beam continues to introduce ‘America’s Native Spirit’ to the world.

Highly Commended
Corsair Artisan Distillery

Shortlist
A. Smith Bowman Distillery
Anchor Distilling Company
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Charbay Distillers
Corsair Artisan Distillery
FEW Spirits
Jim Beam (Beam Suntory)
Sons of Liberty Spirits Company
Wild Turkey

Craft Producer of the Year

Westland Distillery

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.

Highly Commended
Tuthilltown Spirits

Shortlist
A. Smith Bowman Distillery
Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
FEW Spirits
Garrison Brothers Distillery
MB Roland Distillery
Sonoma County Disilling Company
Sons of Liberty Spirits Company
St George Spirits
Tuthilltown Spirits
Westland Distillery

Distiller of the Year

Heaven Hill Brands

Founded shortly after the end of Prohibition, 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.

Highly Commended
Brown-Forman

Shortlist
Balcones Distilling
Brown-Forman
Buffalo Trace
Four Roses Bourbon
Heaven Hill Brands
Jim Beam
Maker's Mark Distillery
St George Spirits
Wild Turkey (Campari America)

Distillery Manager of the Year

Todd Roe - Woodford Reserve Distillery

Todd Roe, Distillery Manager at the Woodford Reserve Distillery, has worked in the spirits industry and for Brown-Forman for 25 years. Before the Woodford Reserve Distillery, Todd worked at the Brown-Forman Cooperage before moving on to the Louisville Production Operation, where he was Operations Manager for the processing and bottling of Jack Daniel’s County Cocktails. Years later he worked at the Brown-Forman Distillery where he managed the barrel maturation warehouses overseeing barrel filling, whisky maturation and the dumping of Early Times and Old Forester. Under Todd’s watchful eye, Woodford Reserve has introduced several unique products such as Double Oaked, Woodford Reserve Rye and the Distillery Series.

Highly Commended
Victoria MacRae-Samuels - Maker’s Mark Distillery
David Perkins - High West Distillery

Shortlist
Andrew Tice - House Spirits Distillery
David Perkins - High West Distillery
Jared Himstedt - Balcones Distilling
Todd Roe - Woodford Reserve
Victoria MacRae-Samuels - Maker's Mark Distillery

Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the Year

Tim Herlihy - Tullamore D.E.W.

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 from malting to maturation. 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.

Highly Commended
John Cashman - Beam Suntory

Shortlist
Gerard Graham - Diageo North America
John Cashman - Beam Suntory
Michael Egan - Beam Suntory
Tim Herlihy - Tullamore D.E.W.

Master Distiller / Master Blender of the Year

Harlen Wheatley - Buffalo Trace Distillery

Harlen’s formal education in chemistry and chemical engineering brought him to Buffalo Trace Distillery 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. Having worked in every aspect of production from raw materials to barrel ageing, Harlen has driven many initiatives, including solidifying standards and consistency, quality focus and efficiency gains. He is responsible for a number of distilling and ageing operations for the Sazerac Company, all while promoting and educating the public on some of the world’s finest Bourbon whiskeys.

Highly Commended
Greg Davis - Maker’s Mark Distillery

Shortlist
Andrea Clodfelter - Corsair Artisan Distillery
Becky Harris - Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
Brian Lee - Tuthilltown Spirits
Dan Garrison - Garrison Brothers Distillery
Denny Potter - Heaven Hill Brands
Greg Davis - Maker's Mark Distillery
Harlen Wheatley - Buffalo Trace
Stephen Gertman - Ascendant Spirits
Willie Pratt - Michter's Distiller

Retailer of the Year - Multiple Outlets

Liquor Barn

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 customers 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 and answering customer questions. With 15 locations throughout Kentucky, Liquor Barn is a must stop for whiskey lovers on any trip to the Bluegrass state.

Highly Commended
Binny’s Beverage Depot

Shortlist
Big Red Liquors
Binny's Beverage Depot
Liquor Barn
Party Mart
Party Source
Spec's Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods
Total Wine & More

Retailer of the Year - Online

Binny’s Beverage Depot - www.binnys.com

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!

Highly Commended
ForWhiskeyLovers - www.forwhiskeylovers.com

Shortlist
Ace Spirits
Binny's Beverage Depot
ForWhiskeyLovers
Holiday Wine Cellar
Suburban Wines And Spirits
The Party Source
The Whisky Shop

Retailer of the Year - Single Outlet

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.

Highly Commended
Park Avenue Liquor Shop

Shortlist
Astor Wines & Spirits
Bayway World of Liquor
Julio's Liquors
Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace
Park Avenue Liquor Shop
The Party Source
Wally's
Westport Whiskey & Wine

Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year

Simon Brooking - Beam Suntory

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a member of the Robertson Clan, Simon traces his roots back to the 13th Century and the Celtic Earls of Atholl. A well-known expert on Scotch whisky, Simon has 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. Simon’s love of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands has paved the way to his present position as the Beam Suntory Scotch Ambassador for Laphroaig, Ardmore, Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch Single Malt Scotch whiskies.

Highly Commended
Gregor Cattanach - Diageo North America
Chris Riesbeck - Classic Import

Shortlist
Brad Jarvis - International Spirits and Wines
Chris Riesbeck - Classic Imports (G&M and Benromach)
David Allardice - William Grant & Sons
David Blackmore - The Glenmorangie Company
Ewan Morgan - Diageo North America
Gregor Cattanach - Diageo North America
Mitch Bechard - William Grant & Sons
Nicola Riske - The Edrington Group
Rick Edwards - Pernod Ricard USA
Robin Robinson - Compass Box Whisky Company
Simon Brooking - Beam Suntory

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.

Highly Commended
DFS Group

Shortlist
DFS Group
Dufry
Duty Free Americas
International Shoppes
Starboard Cruise Services

Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year

Dee Ford - 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. The Woodford Reserve Distillery is a heritage distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, hosting 120,000 visitors last year.

Highly Commended
Matt Higgins - Buffalo Trace Distillery

Shortlist
Cathy Erenzo - Tuthilltown Spirits
Dee Ford - Woodford Reserve
Julie Gorham - Four Roses Bourbon
Kimberley Bennett - Jim Beam Stillhouse
Matt Higgins - Buffalo Trace
Sydina Bradshaw - Maker's Mark 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. No need to forget your visit as the Retail Store offers a wonderful selection of signature souvenirs and exclusive products.

Highly Commended
Wild Turkey

Shortlist
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
Four Roses Bourbon
Jim Beam American Stillhouse
Maker's Mark Distillery
Wild Turkey

World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year

Ewan Morgan - Diageo North America

Ewan Morgan grew up on a distillery in Speyside and worked there to help out his family of distillers. Ewan is 3rd 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 - a team of 25 full time ambassadors who mentored over 150,000 people on whisky in 2014. Ewan spends 70 per cent of his time travelling nationally to promote Diageo’s portfolio.

Highly Commended
Allison Patel - Brenne

Shortlist
Allison Patel - Brenne
Ewan Morgan - Diageo North America
Gardner Dunn - Beam Suntory
Gregory Fitch - Anchor Distilling Company
Raj Sabharwal - PVI Global