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    Eat & Swig

    Delving Deeper Into Maker's Mark's History With Bill Samuels, Jr.
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    If you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to Bill Samuels, Jr. of Maker’s Mark tell stories, you’re really missing out on something special.  Samuels recalls the reason his father started Maker’s Mark was because his mother wanted him out of the house so he would stop interfering with her farm work.  His father had wanted to change the family whisky recipe, something his grandmother had called “nose holding whiskey,” to something more palatable.  He had been told by his family that people in Kentucky are thirsty and they would drink anything, but he wanted to make a premium bourbon brand his family could be proud of.

    Fred Minnick interviewed Bill Samuels, Jr. during the Legends Series program at The Kentucky Derby Museum last night.  Samuels, Jr. started his career as a rocket scientist, but an accident while he was in graduate school left him without a job.  He packed all his belongings and headed home to work in the family business, where he was in sales.  One of his more colorful assignments was to accompany Pappy Van Winkle to New York City.  Van Winkle was known for always tipping a dime, which was an insult in New York at the time, so Samuels, Jr. was tasked with following him around and tipping the proper amount behind him.

    On the subject of the patents Maker’s Mark holds on the red colored wax and the wax tendrils on its bottles, Samuels stated, “It doesn’t make the bourbon taste any better, but it sure made mom famous.”  Margie Samuels’ contributions to the iconic bourbon brand were peppered throughout the discussion all evening, including mention of her posthumous induction into the Bourbon Hall of Fame last year.

    Samuels, Jr. told more colorful stories in an hour than I can fit in a short review.  If you want to hear more, you still have opportunities to chat with him at The Kentucky Bourbon Affair this week.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Legends Series, bourbon historian Michael Veach will be the next guest on August 6th.  Click here to buy tickets for the next Legends Series.

    Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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