On Feb. 4, Venture Connectors will host Andrea Wilson, general manager of Michter‚Äôs Distillery LLC, and Doris Sims, vice president of bureau services for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. They will discuss the state of the bourbon industry, focusing on downtown distilling and bourbon experiences. Wilson and Sims also will share information on the expected economic impact of the bourbon industry on Louisville and what they believe are opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.
Michter‚Äôs is a startup distiller in Louisville that is resurrecting an old brand and reintroducing it to the marketplace. A privately held business with a history tracing back to 1753, Michter‚Äôs 65,000-square-foot distillery is located on 5.6 acres in Shively. Additionally, Michter‚Äôs is currently renovating the historic Fort Nelson Building across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, which is slated to offer educational tours and tastings. The distillery‚Äôs current production includes small-batch bourbon, single-barrel rye whiskey, sour mash whiskey, unblended American whiskey, 10-year-old single-barrel rye and single-barrel bourbon, 20-year-old single-barrel bourbon and 25-year-old single-barrel rye. Michter‚Äôs earned the Robb Report‚Äôs ‚ÄúBest of the Best Award‚Äù in 2014, and has been named ‚ÄúThe Best American Whiskey‚Äù by Food & Wine magazine.
Wilson earned a master‚Äôs degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville.¬†She began her career as a consultant for CH2M Hill. She spent the past 11 years working in the bourbon industry, including roles at Diageo, where she oversaw its North American distilling operations and, most recently, its whiskey strategy. Wilson is in her 10th¬†year with the Kentucky Distiller‚Äôs Association and became the first woman to chair the organization in 2009. She was recently highlighted in the KET documentary, ‚ÄúKentucky Bourbon Tales: Distilling the Family Business.‚Äù
Sims has worked for the Convention & Visitors Bureau since 1987 and was promoted to her current position in 2003. During her tenure, she has improved and streamlined bureau operations in several areas, including the development of a call center to book hotel reservations and answer visitor information calls. In addition, she was instrumental in upgrading convention housing; the implementation of the leisure housing program to include selling Kentucky Derby packages; the expansion of the merchandising program and the opening of the Louisville Visitors Center. Sims also spearheaded the development and launch of the Hospitality Louisville and Taxi University customer service training programs.¬† Sims is a member of several local and national industry organizations, including Destination Management Association International, Professional Convention Management Association and is a past president Event Services Professional Association (formerly the Association for Convention Operations Management).