These Five Whiskey Makers Are in the Running for James Beard Awards

The James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation

As craft whiskey comes of age, more than the public has taken notice. This year a quarter of the James Beard Nominees for Best Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer were whiskey makers.

The list includes bourbon, rye, and single malt producers (many of whom produce other spirits as well).

Oddly enough, these are the same five semifinalists that made the short list in 2018 (the wine and beer producers had more variety between years).

James Beard Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer Nominees:

Drew Kulsveen, Willett Distillery, Bardstown, KY

Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold, Leopold Bros., Denver

Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell, High Wire Distilling Co., Charleston, SC

Meredith Meyer Grelli, Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh

Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA


The only Kentucky distillery represented on the list is Bardstown’s Willett, while the others hail from both coats, north and south. Last year’s category winner was a winery, so let’s hope whiskey can take home the gold this year.

Check out the full list of nominees here.

G. Clay Whittaker
Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.