Included in each guest stay is an INCREDIBLE opportunity to learn about the Samuels legacy directly from the family themselves. Call and speak with our Guest Manager, Missy Hillock, for all the details. Missy is a 9-year hospitality and industry expert – not to mention a 25-year bourbon drinker. She can provide details on this and other VIP experiences, making your stay one you’ll remember for a lifetime.


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Makers Mark & the Samuels Family Legacy

The roots of the Samuels family tree run particularly deep in Kentucky for the past 250 years. That celebrated lineage tells the story of eight generations of whisky makers who have played a vital role in the history of bourbon.

Robert Samuels originally hailed from Pennsylvania and served in George Washington’s Continental Army, making whisky that he shared with his comrades-in-arms. Robert mustered out once the Revolutionary War was over, moving his family – and their 60-gallon copper still – to Central Kentucky.

TW SamuelsRobert’s son, John, continued on as a farmer/distiller (turning corn into whisky was an efficient way to transport and add value to the corn crop). Around 1820, John built this relatively simple but elegant center-hall Georgian home that became a gathering place for generations of Samuels family distillers.

John’s nephew (Robert’s grandson) was T.W. Samuels, who built the family’s first commercial distillery nearby in 1844. He was also the Nelson County Sheriff. T.W. clearly made good use of his ancestors’ whisky-making experience and his namesake bourbon was quite successful, remaining in production for over 100 years and two more generations.

Bill Samuels SrThen, T.W.’s great-grandson, Bill Samuels, Sr., had a different idea in the early 1950’s. He had always felt the family mash bill produced a harsh taste which was common among bourbons at the time, but that Bill felt could be vastly improved. So, after selling the old T.W. Samuels distillery, Bill burned the old family recipe and created his own flavor vision; a much more refined, approachable bourbon that he and his wife, Margie, called Maker’s Mark. They purchased a shuttered Victorian distillery that featured its own limestone-filtered water source and resumed the family business on Star Hill Farm in Loretto, Kentucky.

Bill Samuels JrThe rest is, well, history. Bill and Margie’s whisky is often credited with transforming bourbon from a bottom-shelf to a top-shelf spirit, helping create the premium bourbon category. Bill’s son Bill, Jr. then led the distillery for nearly 40 years, building Maker’s Mark during his tenure into one of the world’s most iconic and well-known brands. Bill, Jr.’s son Rob began his career gaining experience with four different companies in the spirits industry before being recruited back to lead global development for Maker’s Mark, ultimately taking over the reins of the brand in 2011. Since then, Rob has managed continuing growth, spearheading thoughtful innovation, and staying true to his grandparents’ founding vision, keeping a higher purpose in mind and finding meaningful ways to give back to the community.

The Samuels family represents the longest operational lineage in the entire bourbon industry. And with The Samuels House now open to discerning guests, you can feel like part of the family yourself and be immersed into this rich heritage in a remarkable and unforgettable way.