Victoria MacRae-Samuels

MM_VictoriaMacRaeSamuels

Name: Victoria MacRae-Samuels

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Title: Vice President, Operations – Maker’s Mark Distillery

Married/Single: Married

Kids: 2 daughters

A typical day in my life includes…

as the guardian of Maker’s Mark, I am responsible for overseeing every aspect of the Distillery, from supervising the entire bourbon production process (including a team of nearly 100 employees) to the upkeep of the National Historic Landmark Distillery.

Most importantly, my day entails keeping the standard of Maker’s Mark up to guidelines set forth by Founder, Bill Samuels, Sr., sixty years ago – everything from the selection of grains, fermentation and distillation to barrel warehousing, bottling and shipping, quality control and taste testing.

I was born…

in Seattle, Washington.

My favorite thing about Arizona…

the people! Everyone I’ve met here has been highly engaged and extremely welcoming.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be…

Marge Samuels, wife of Maker’s Mark founder Bill, Jr. What most people don’t know if that it actually took a woman to make Maker’s Mark! Back in the 1950s, Marge was a woman well behind her time – credited as the mastermind behind the Maker’s Mark bottle & label design (including the signature red wax), as well as the brand name (she was a collector of fine pewter, always in search of the “mark of the maker”). Further, she was the one who insisted on inviting people to visit our little distillery in Loretto, KY way before anyone knew Maker’s Mark – planting the seed for what is today known as the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

When I was younger, I wanted to be…

a scientist, though I never pictured the role in regards to whisky!

When I was first introduced to the world of bourbon in 1989 during a chance meeting with legendary distillery Booker Noe, he offered me a position as a research and development chemist with Jim Beam. Of course, I eagerly accepted and went on to learn the science of making bourbon, preparing me for the role I’d later assume at Maker’s Mark some 20 years later.

I’m inspired by…

passionate women who do what they love and don’t take “no” for an answer.

The one person who motivates me is…

ultimately, my motivation comes from within to do the very best that I can. I strive to have a positive, lasting impact on everything that I do – more intrinsic and not externally derived.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be…

equal employment opportunities across the globe. As an American, I am very lucky that my hard work eventually led me to become the very first woman to serve as Vice President of a bourbon distillery. It’s hard to believe that there are still places where women are not viewed in this same regard.

The perfect day would be…

sharing a meal with my daughters, preferably a fresh piece of Salmon cooked on a Maker’s 46 French oak stave.

My life…

is BUSY! In addition to overseeing the production of Maker’s Mark on a daily basis, I recently finished my Masters program at Bellarmine University in Kentucky – something I’m very proud of.

I’m currently working on…

a major expansion at the Maker’s Mark Distillery; in an effort to balance supply and demand of the Kentucky bourbon, myself and the team will welcome a third still, an exact replica of existing equipment so as to maintain the consistency and integrity that has spanned the past 60 years.

Always…

learn as much as you possibly can about the things you are passionate about and your opportunities will be limitless.

Never…

take a job just because you think you “should.” Find what you’re passionate about and when your career becomes a reflection of yourself, you will find success.

Favorite Quote…

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching” – C.S. Lewis

With more than 25 years of experience in the spirits industry, Victoria MacRae-Samuels holds the unique distinction of being the first woman to hold the title of vice president of operations of a bourbon distillery. Responsible for overseeing every aspect of the Maker’s Mark® Distillery, from supervising the entire bourbon production process to the upkeep of the National Historic Landmark, her expertise and the staff of 90 employees she supervises keeps things running smoothly according to the guidelines set forth by Maker’s® Founder Bill Samuels, Sr., Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, Jr., and Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels.

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. She eagerly accepted and learned the science of making bourbon, preparing her for the role she would assume at Maker’s Mark® some 20 years later.

In 2008, MacRae-Samuels 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® and Maker’s 46®, from the selection of the grains, fermentation and distillation to barrel warehousing, bottling and shipping, quality control and taste testing.

 



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