For the first time since its founding in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is expanding its membership rolls to invite craft distilleries, with Nicholasville-based Alltech being the first to join on Thursday.
Alltech, a global leader in the animal health and nutrition industry, has established itself as an innovator in Kentucky’s growing craft distillery business with brands including Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey and the unique Bluegrass Sundown, a Bourbon-infused coffee beverage.
“We are excited to announce the addition of Alltech to the legendary ranks of our Association, which has promoted and protected our signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry for 130 years,” said KDA Board Chairman John Rhea, the Chief Operating Officer at Four Roses Distillery.
“Our members can trace their Kentucky roots back generations to small, family-owned distilleries that today are global icons,” Rhea said. “It’s with great pride that the KDA welcomes Alltech and our craft distillery partners in keeping this tradition alive and securing the integrity of our industry.”
The announcement was made at Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. Rhea and executives from KDA member distilleries presented Alltech President and Founder Pearse Lyons, Ph.D. with a commemorative barrel head to celebrate his company’s induction.
“It is an incredible honor today to see Alltech join such a revered group of distillers, companies we’ve so long admired,” Lyons said.
A devotee of brewing and distilling even before completing his Ph.D. in yeast fermentation, Lyons honed the craft working at distilleries in his native Ireland. Five generations of coopers hail from Lyons’ family; whiskey-making is indeed a family tradition.
Lyons’ grandfather proudly earned his living as a master cooper and Lyons’ son, Mark, continues the family legacy today, having earned his Ph.D. in brewing and distilling in Scotland.
Pearse Lyons vowed as a young man that he would one day have his own whiskey, and Pearse Lyons Reserve was introduced to the world on his birthday in 2010, just before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
“We made history with the introduction of our Pearse Lyons Reserve, the first malt whiskey to be distilled in Kentucky since 1919, and now we are thrilled to have the honor of being the first craft distillery to join KDA,” Lyons said.
The KDA, a non-profit group, was founded in 1880 when 32 distillers met in Louisville to protect the Bourbon industry from “needless and obstructive laws and regulations.” Today, the KDA is the state’s leading voice on spirits issues, from taxes to tourism, technical matters and more.
KDA members, which produce nearly 90 percent of all of the world’s Bourbon, include Beam Global Spirits & Wine (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp., Diageo North America, Four Roses, Heaven Hill and Wild Turkey.
KDA President Eric Gregory said the new craft membership is available to licensed Kentucky distillers that maintain an inventory of less than 25,000 barrels of distilled beverage spirits. There are more than 200 craft – or “micro distilleries” – in the country, including several in Kentucky.
“These are small businesses that often bring a unique perspective on issues that affect our historic craft,” Gregory said. “We look forward to working with them to promote our proud heritage, to advocate fair treatment of our industry and to continue our commitment to responsible drinking.”
Editor’s note: article courtesy of Alltech public relations.