2016 Derby Museum Legends Series To Kick Off With Whiskey Women

legends series derby
legends series derby

All photos by Maggie Kimberl.  When you think of Louisville, Kentucky, you probably think of horse racing and bourbon. While the Kentucky Derby only takes place two minutes out of every year, The Kentucky Derby Museum is open year-round, dedicated to educating visitors about the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.” In recent years they have branched out past Mint Juleps to embrace Kentucky’s Native Spirit- bourbon- with a program called the “Legends Series.”

Fred Minnick (L) and Jimmy Russell
Fred Minnick (L) and Jimmy Russell

The Kentucky Derby Museum’s Legends Series takes place 3-5 times a year. Each program is centered around either a single guest or a theme. Past guests have included Bourbon Historian Michael Veach, Master Distiller Greg Metze of MGPI, and Wild Turkey Master Distiller Emeritus Jimmy Russell. The program is hosted by Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author and Derby Museum Bourbon Authority Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of how Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey as well as Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker.

Each program has begun with cocktails and appetizers. As guests take their seats in the Great Hall, they experience “The Greatest Race” on a 360° screen overhead. Then focus is shifted to the guest of honor and the program begins. Throughout the approximately 90 minute programs Minnick conducts a journalistic-style Q&A which includes several breaks for bourbon and whiskey tastings. The last 10-15 minutes of the program is reserved for the audience to ask their own burning questions.

Greg Metze bourbon tasting
Greg Metze bourbon tasting

The first Legends Series of 2016 will take place February 25th. The title of the panel is Whiskey Women, and panelists include Marianne Barnes, Pam Heilmann, Andrea Wilson, and Victoria MacRae-Samuels. Barnes is the first woman to hold the title of “Master Distiller” in Kentucky since Prohibition and is leading the charge to reopen the once-abandoned Old Taylor Distillery and is also a Brown-Forman alum. Pam Heilmann is the Vice President of Production and Distiller for Michter’s Distillery as well as a Beam Global alum. Andrea Wilson is the Vice President General Manager of Michter’s Distillery as well as a Diageo alum. Victoria MacRae-Samuels is the Vice President of Operations at Maker’s Mark Distillery, the first woman in the history of the bourbon industry to achieve that position. This program will be a great opportunity for guests to learn about the growing and changing role of women in the bourbon industry.

Max Shapira of Heaven Hill will be the next guest on March 22, 2016. Shapira is the 3rd generation of his family to run Heaven Hill Brands since they formed it in 1935. It is still a family owned and run company today. Julian Van Winkle III will be the guest on April 14th, also the 3rd generation of his family to run the family bourbon business. His grandfather, the famous Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, started as a salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons before Prohibition and opened Stitzel-Weller Distillery after Prohibition.

The Kentucky Derby Museum’s Legends Series is a great event for bourbon lovers who want to delve deeper into bourbon history. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and there’s no better way to get the real story than straight from the horse’s mouth. Check out The Kentucky Derby Museum’s webpage for more information on these programs. Tickets are $175 for all 3 events.