With seven generations of bourbon-making history in his blood, you'd think the top dog at Maker's Mark® would have had his sights set on taking over the family business from a very young age. But that wasn't the case with Bill. He wanted to be a basketball player, a rocket scientist and a lawyer. He inevitably became all three, playing basketball in high school, studying rocket science at Case Western Reserve University and earning a law degree from Vanderbilt University. After coming home to take a temporary job at the distillery, his true calling found him. He took the reins in 1980 and oversaw Maker's Mark's ascent from a struggling family distillery to a brand recognized worldwide for its unique flavour and premium appeal — all while maintaining the family tradition of making every drop of Maker's by hand. Not too bad for a "temporary" job.
Unlike his father, Rob's passion for the family business was apparent at a very early age — he developed his first Maker's Mark holiday advertisement at only nine years old. From then on, he spent untold hours working every job at the distillery, thus developing his deep understanding of the family brand. Even through college he stayed grounded in the business, working at a local bar where he made sure the top-selling brand was Maker's Mark. Rob graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1996 with degrees in finance and sociology. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for the family and was quickly promoted through the ranks. In 2010, he was appointed COO of Maker's Mark. In this role Rob is accountable for business, financial and marketing goals, and works closely with his father Bill Samuels, Jr., in the leadership, guardianship and marketing of the brand. In addition, he serves as General Manager of the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., working directly with Maker's Mark Vice President of Operations Victoria MacRae-Samuels and Master Distiller and Director of Distillery Operations Greg Davis.
Maker's Mark Director of Distillery Operations and Master Distiller Greg Davis has many responsibilities, but his most important mandate from President Bill Samuels, Jr., is, "Don't screw it up." To that end, from the selection of grains and overseeing of milling, cooking, fermentation and distillation to taste-testing the bourbon through its journey to maturity, Greg and his team are dedicated to ensuring that every bottle of Maker's Mark and Maker's 46 meets the high standards for quality and tradition set forth by Bill Samuels, Jr., and his father, Maker's Mark founder Bill Samuels, Sr.
With more than 20 years of experience in the spirits industry, Victoria MacRae-Samuels holds the unique distinction of being the only woman to currently hold the title of vice president of operations of a bourbon distillery. Victoria was introduced to the world of bourbon in 1989 when by chance she met legendary bourbon distiller Booker Noe, and he offered her a position as a research and development chemist with Jim Beam. In 2008, Victoria came to Maker's as director of operations and had an integral role in the first bottling of Maker's 46, the distillery's first-ever new bourbon. Appointed vice president of operations in 2010, she is responsible for the production of Maker's Mark Bourbon, from the selection of the grains, fermentation and distillation to barrel warehousing, bottling and shipping, quality control and taste-testing.