Friday, September 12, 2014


Margie Mattingly Samuels, who created the distinctive name, cutting-edge design and iconic red wax of her family’s Maker’s Mark distillery, will be inducted next week as the newest member of the prestigious Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Mrs Samuels is the first woman directly connected with a distillery to receive the Bourbon industry’s highest honour, and only the fifth woman ever to be inducted, the Kentucky Distillers Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival announced yesterday.

Marge and Bill Samuels Sr

The ceremony will be held Wednesday on September 17th at the Bardstown Country Club in conjunction with the 23rd annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which runs from September 16th through to September 21st in Bardstown.

Commenting on the news, Gregory KDA President said: “This is a historic moment that is long overdue. Mrs. Samuels was one of many women in our industry to be directly involved with creating and growing a legendary Bourbon brand. We are proud to honour Mrs. Samuels, and we applaud her monumental contributions that forever changed the way Bourbon is made and marketed. She transformed our industry, and we are eternally grateful.”

Her son, Bill Samuels, Jr said: “As Associate Editor of my high school yearbook, I’ll never forget that day when I came home from school and all my things were sitting outside because Mom had thrown out my photo lab to set up a wax test kitchen in the basement. I was so aggravated with her in that moment, but looking back 60 years, I know that what she accomplished compared to what I might have is just monumental.”

Mrs. Samuels was born into Kentucky’s signature Bourbon business. Her father’s family co-founded the Mattingly & Moore Distillery in Bardstown in the mid-1800s. She graduated at the top of her class from the Louisville Girls High School and the University of Louisville with a chemistry degree in 1933.

Whilst at the University of Louisville, she met Bill Samuels Sr, a sixth-generation Kentucky distiller whose family owned and operated the T.W. Samuels Distillery. They married in 1937 and set up residence at the old Samuels home place on Whiskey Row in Bardstown, next door to Colonel Jim and Mary Beam.

In 1953, Mrs. Samuels collaborated with her husband on a new kind of Bourbon using wheat in place of rye as the secondary grain. She baked bread with a variety of alternative grains, and Bill blind tasted the bread and then made his decision for red winter wheat.
She insisted that all of the old buildings at the Victorian-era distillery they purchased in Loretto not only be preserved but faithfully restored, even though money was scarce. But, by far, her most famous and invaluable contributions came in the naming and marketing of the new whisky.
A noted collector of fine English pewter, Mrs. Samuels knew the “maker’s mark” was a symbol of handcrafted quality. She created the unique red wax that drips down the neck of the bottle she designed, as well as the label and lettering that’s now an internationally recognized type style.
Candidates may be nominated each year by the KDA, its member distilleries and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Nominees are then sent to the KDA Board of Directors for selection.
Source: Evins Communications