This journey begins when you board the bus in Louisville, hosted by Bill Samuels, Jr., retired Maker’s Mark President and son of our Founders. It’s only natural that, with a guide as deep-rooted in Kentucky Bourbon as Bill, your trek to our Historic distillery in Loretto may take a couple of quick pitstops along the way. You will see the ruins of the old T.W. Samuels Distillery, which Bill’s parents worked to reopen after the repeal of Prohibition, before selling it and ultimately creating Maker’s Mark about a decade later. Pass by some of the homes on Bourbon Row and hear some of the stories Bill remembers from the Distillers who once lived there.
Along the bus ride through the Kentucky countryside, you will hear a bit about Bill’s life, his untraditional path into the family business, and learn why he’s often referred to as The Father of Modern Bourbon. You will have the chance to ask those questions of someone with a literal lifetime of Bourbon knowledge and has championed the industry from the near bust to the boom we are experiencing today.
Once you arrive in Loretto, Bill will take you into the Heritage Room for an even deeper dive into the legacy of Maker’s, Bourbon in general, and even some American history. You’ll enjoy endless Bourbon stories about characters as varied as Jim Beam, Jesse James and even Honest Abe himself. And it turns out, Bill Jr. even married into a family with roots in the whisky business, so you’ll hear all about their history and ties to Daniel Boone.
Learn about his dad, Bill Sr., who set fire to his family’s Bourbon recipe (as well as his daughter’s hair) and how he embarked on his journey to create a totally new kind of Bourbon. Bill’s mom, Margie, played a critical role in the development of Maker’s Mark, specifically in the design of our iconic bottle. You’ll get to see the first fruit of their collective labors as Bill showcases the very first bottle of Maker’s Mark, signed and dated.
While he’s at it, Bill will show off some of his most-prized bottles of whisky. From various decanters dating back generations to unopened family whisky bottles, the oldest of which is about 175 years old. You’ll see some autographed, sealed Bourbon bottles from the late 1800s and other pre-Prohibition Bourbons. The artifacts you’ll get to see include Maker’s Mark history and even an old voting machine that was used in the vote to repeal Prohibition.
You’ll be thankful Prohibition is no more, as you sit down to enjoy a Maker’s Mark cocktail and finish your time at our Distillery with a locally-sourced lunch from Chef Newman Miller at our on-site restaurant, Star Hill Provisions.