VERSAILLES, Ky. (March 28, 2018) – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association this week honored U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with its prestigious “100 Proof Award” for his leadership in championing the state’s signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
Sen. McConnell (R-Ky.) is the first federal official to ever receive the award, which is the highest honor that the KDA bestows to elected officials. KDA member executives presented him with a commemorative “100 Proof Award” barrel head Monday at Brown-Forman’s landmark Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles.
“As he has proven time and again, bourbon has no better friend in Washington, D.C., than Leader McConnell,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “He understands, better than anyone, that bourbon is more than just a drink – it’s jobs, investment and a thriving global symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition.
“The KDA and its 39 members today thank Sen. McConnell for his leading advocacy, legislative skill, and tremendous track record in support of our legendary craft. We are truly honored by his friendship and proud to present him with this esteemed award.”
“I would like to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for honoring me with its ‘100 Proof Award,’” Sen. McConnell said. “Bourbon continues to make an important impact on our commonwealth and our nation, and I am proud to continue supporting Kentucky’s signature industry.
“I was especially happy to discuss the positive effects of the historic tax reform law, which is already benefiting Kentucky distillers and their workers.”
In presenting the award, Gregory noted Sen. McConnell’s leadership in passage of historic tax reform and relief legislation, including the first decrease of the federal excise tax on spirits in generations. “The results of this sweeping tax overhaul at our distilleries – big and small – have been transformational,” Gregory said.
“Bourbon is the highest taxed industry in Kentucky and one of the highest in the country,” he said. “By lowering the federal excise tax on alcohol, our distilleries have been able to create new jobs, reinvest in their facilities, offer bonuses to workers and increase contributions to charitable causes.”
Gregory also applauded Sen. McConnell’s work in expanding free and fair trade, eliminating restrictive tax policies on aging spirits, fully funding the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to increase regulatory efficiencies, as well as his proven and public record of support for Kentucky bourbon.
Sen. McConnell is only the seventh person to ever receive the award, which the KDA created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s timeless bourbon industry.
Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the KDA’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group and the KDA Board of Directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic bourbon industry gives to elected officials.
Previous recipients of the non-partisan award are:
• Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws;
• Gov. Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry;
• Senate President Robert Stivers in 2014 for his bold leadership that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit;
• Rep. Dennis Keene in 2015 for his tireless six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers;
• Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, and Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.