Yesterday, it was my honor to be inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame was created in 2001 by the Kentucky Distiller’s Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, "to recognize individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact on bourbon’s stature, growth and awareness. It is the highest honor given by Kentucky’s legendary bourbon industry."
The induction ceremony was held at historic Wickland mansion in Bardstown.
Pictured are Fred Noe, accepting on behalf of his great-great-grandfather, David M. Beam; Frank M. “Chip” Dailey III, accepting on behalf of his father, Frank M. Dailey; Tom Bulleit; Mary Jane Dickerson; me; and Edward Monohan IV, accepting on behalf of his father, Edward S. Monohan III. (Not pictured: Chris Morris accepting on behalf of John Henry “Jack” Beam.)
David M. Beam was sponsored by Beam Global while Jack Beam was sponsored by Brown-Forman, so no one mentioned they were brothers. So much for the myth of friendly competitors in the bourbon business.
All of the inductees, or the people accepting on their behalf, get to make brief remarks. Here is what I said, more or less.
“I live in Chicago. We have a motto there that originated with one of the architects who rebuilt Chicago after the great fire of 1871: ‘Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.’
“I’ve been knocking around the bourbon industry for about 30 years. I saw y’all at your most timid back then, engaged in a race to the bottom. The quickest way to get shut down in a marketing meeting was to suggest that bourbon could be sold on quality. Everyone insisted that bourbon was a commodity, sold on price. If I mentioned Marker’s Mark as an example, I was told that was just two rich guys messing around, not a real brand.
“It has been my pleasure to watch the industry come back, bigger and better than ever. So that is my message to you, ‘make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.’
“The potential for American whiskey is unlimited. Don’t think in terms of twenty percent increases or forty percent increases. Think about growing two times, three times, five times, ten times bigger. There is no reason you can’t do it.
“Make no little plans.”