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Maker’s Mark president, Bill Samuels, steps down

on 12/01/11 at 11:20 am


For 35 years, Bill Samuels Jr. oversaw Maker’s Mark bourbon as it matured from a regional novelty started by his parents to an international brand recognizable by its red wax seal.

Now he’s planning to step aside for the next generation of his family to lead the rural Kentucky distillery, known for its distinctive square bottles that are sealed with red wax.

Samuels, 70, will retire as president and CEO of Maker’s Mark on April 15, when he’ll become chairman emeritus of the brand owned by Fortune Brands Inc., the company announced Wednesday.

His son, Rob, who was appointed chief operating officer last October, will lead the distillery in Loretto, the quiet rural community 45 miles south of Louisville that has been home to Maker’s Mark since the 1950s.

Bill Samuels said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that his career was an “incredible journey” that turned his family’s tiny whiskey operation into one of the most recognized brands in the world, helping it to surpass 1 million cases bottled for the first time in 2010.

{Full story via AP}

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