Bill Samuels Jr. Bill Samuels Jr. is a seventh-generation Kentucky whisky producer who helmed Maker's Mark Distillery for 35 years. Bill is credited for building Maker's Mark into an iconic and renowned global brand during his tenure while staying true to his family's commitment to hand craftsmanship.Experience: Although whisky is in his DNA, Bill Samuels Jr. spent his early adulthood trying his hand at aerospace engineering and politics. When he went to work at his family's Kentucky distillery, he focused on marketing and building up the premium brand his parents founded in 1953. Bill is widely regarded as a maverick in the whisky business because he took what was still considered a relatively small artisan company and turned it into an unparalleled global success, establishing an entirely new category in the spirits industry. Before handing over leadership of the distillery to his son in 2011, Bill helped develop and launch what he called his "retirement project" which he approached with the precision of a rocket scientist. The result of his efforts was the universally acclaimed Maker's 46. Bill's "legacy" bourbon, the first new recipe in 52 years, set a path for the brand's future success.Education: Bill Samuels Jr. studied Rocket Science and Solid Propellents at Case Western Reserve University. At the University of California at Berkeley he earned a degree in Engineering Physics and helped design both the Gemini and Polaris missiles. He later interned at the White House and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a law degree. About Food & Wine Food & Wine, a Dotdash Meredith Brand, is an award-winning online resource for anyone passionate about the culinary world. With rigorously tested recipes and the most trusted restaurant, drinks, culinary travel and home coverage, we inspire and empower people everywhere to discover, create, and devour the best in food and wine. Learn more about us and our editorial process.