Charlie Downs of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience reflected in his stillroom's instrument panel September 16, 2014. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie.

September 24, 2015 – Heaven Hill Brands led the list of winners in Whisky Magazine’s 2016 Icons of Whisky Awards US round, winning Distiller of the Year honors after several years of dominance by Buffalo Trace and Four Roses. Brown-Forman was voted the “Highly Commended” runner-up in online voting by members of the whisky industry. The awards for the US round were announced Saturday night as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s annual black-tie gala. The Scotland round will be announced in December, with a final round for “Rest of the World” honors and the overall global winners to be announced in the spring of 2016 in conjunction with Whisky Live London.

Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace was named Master Distiller/Blender of the Year, with Greg Davis of Maker’s Mark receiving “Highly Commended” honors. Woodford Reserve’s Todd Roe was named Distillery Manager of the Year, with a tie for “Highly Commended” honors between Victoria MacRae-Samuels of Maker’s Mark and High West’s David Perkins. Seattle’s Westland Distillery was named Craft Producer of the Year, with runner-up honors going to New York’s Tuthilltown Spirits. Jim Beam was named Brand Innovator of the Year, with Corsair Artisan Distillery coming in second.

Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville was named Visitor Attraction of the Year, with the new visitors center at Wild Turkey receiving “Highly Commended” recognition. Woodford Reserve’s Dee Ford was named Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year, with Buffalo Trace’s Matt Higgins coming in second.

In the categories for brand ambassadors, Heaven Hill’s Bernie Lubbers was named American Whiskey Ambassador of the Year, with Jim Beam’s Adam Harris receiving “Highly Commended” honors. Laphroaig’s Simon Brooking was named Scotch Whisky Ambassador of the Year, with a tie for “Highly Commended” honors between Chris Riesbeck of Classic Imports and Diageo’s Gregor Cattanach. In new categories added for this year, Tim Herlihy of Tullamore D.E.W. was named Irish Whiskey Ambassador of the Year over Beam Suntory’s John Cashman. Ewan Morgan of Diageo was named the World Whiskey Ambassador of the Year, with Brenne’s Allison Patel receiving “Highly Commended” recognition.

In the retailer categories, Kentucky’s Liquor Barn stores were honored as the multiple-store Retailer of the Year over Binny’s Beverage Depot, which was honored as the Online Retailer of the Year. was the “Highly Commended” runner-up in that category. Two of New York City’s landmark liquor stores took top honors in the single-store category, In a new category added this year, Duty Free Americas was named Travel Retailer of the Year over DFS Group.

Links: Whisky Magazine