Trevor Kallies


In June of 2008 Granville Room had the chance to host a group of bartenders to listen to a bourbon legend Bill Samuels Jr of Maker’s Mark. Back then it was VERY rare to see master distillers or brand ambassadors of that renown come to Vancouver. Bill has never returned to Vancouver on this sort of trip, but ask any barkeep that was there and they’ll tell you how important it was.

Bill Samuels Sr. was a literal bourbon legend. The man essentially changed a spirit category – not an easy feat. He was a fourth generation whiskey distiller in what is likely North America’s most storied whiskey-producing region. He created an Icon – He created Maker’s Mark. His son – Bill Samuels Jr  – continued in his father’s footsteps, maintaining the bourbon boasting the inconic dripping red-wax neck for years.




To a lot of bartenders in Vancouver at the time, Maker’s Mark was simply a bottle on the back bar. To those in the know – the opportunity to get in a room with Bill Samuels Jr. to listen to the stories was one like no other.



(Bill Samuels Jr mixing up some Old Fashioned Cocktails)


Here were the takeaways:

-One of Bill Samuel Jr’s first jobs was selling fryers for none other than Colonel Sanders

-Not unlike his father, Bill Samuels JR didn’t originally plan on joining the family business (Bill Sr. tore up the family recipe not wanting to make that style of bourbon – Bill Jr. didn’t come into the bourbon game until he exploded a laboratory with a missile (yes, a missile).

-The Logo on a Maker’s Mark bottle is filled with meaning

-the Star refers to Star Hill Road (when the distillery still sits today in

Loretto, KY

-The IV is the roman numeral for 4 – the four generations of bourbon

distillers before Bill Samuels Sr.

-The breaks in the circle which could to some look like a printer error actually refer to the various times in US history up until 1954 when distilling was restricted or prohibited.




-Until the introduction of Maker’s 46 (which didn’t exist until a few years later) Maker’s Mark distilled one product and one product only.

For up and coming product events like this one please stay tuned to the bulletin.