Major Brands’ Chairman & CEO Makes Her Mark Creating Custom Bourbon for a Good Cause

For Immediate Release: May 9, 2018

St. Louis-Area Female Leaders to Create Customized Whisky to Benefit Non-Profits

ST. LOUIS, MO — On May 14, Sue McCollum, Chairman and CEO of Major Brands, Inc. will blend three passions close to her heart – community, women and whisky – as she and seven St. Louis-area female leaders create a limited-edition Maker’s Mark® Private Select™ bourbon. The proceeds from this custom whisky will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Forest Park Forever and the Saint Louis Fashion Fund.

“This ‘Women and Whiskey’ tour is a match made in heaven,” said McCollum. “It is a creative way for us to develop a bourbon as unique as the female change-makers who are joining us, all to help make a positive difference in our community.”

In partnership with Maker’s Mark®, McCollum has hand-selected leading executive directors of St. Louis-based non-profits and female executives to serve on a “Private Selection Team” to create the whisky.

The Private Selection Team is made up of four executive directors, including:

  • Rebecca “Becky” Hatter, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri
  • Lesley Hoffarth, President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever
  • Lisa Melandri, Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
  • Susan Sherman, Founder of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund

and four executives, including:

  • Cabanne Howard, CEO of Kaleidoscope Management Group
  • Sue McCollum, Chairman and CEO of Major Brands, Inc.
  • Ellen Sherberg, Special Advisor to the CEO of the American City Business Journals
  • Suzanne Sitherwood, President and CEO of Spire, Inc.

Barrel customization is an increasingly popular trend in the industry since, through the process, whisky aficionados can select their perfect bourbon. The Maker’s Mark Private Select Experience is distinguished in that it allows participants to “make their own Maker’s™” by finishing fully-matured cask strength Maker’s Mark Bourbon in a single barrel made up of their custom selection of oak staves, all of which were created and chosen specifically for this program. These five staves, which each accentuate different flavors found in fully-matured Maker’s Mark, can be combined in 1,001 ways to create your own personal taste expression.

After the stave combination is selected, the process continues to be a labor of love as the staves are then positioned inside the barrel by hand. After maturing for nine additional weeks in this custom barrel, the Maker’s Mark Private Select bourbon will be bottled, corked and dipped at cask strength, with details such as proof and stave combinations handwritten on the label.

The barrel created by McCollum and her Private Selection Team will yield approximately 240 bottles of unique bourbon, which will be divided between the participating non-profit organizations. Each non-profit will have the opportunity to distribute these bottles through meaningful fundraising opportunities.

As the CEO of the largest woman-operated and owned distributor in the country, McCollum is the only female liquor distributor owner to participate in the Maker’s Mark Private Select program to date.

“As women, we often deal with the misconception that whisky is ‘too strong’ for us, which is simply untrue,” said McCollum. “We can, and do, enjoy whisky as much as anyone else, which is why this opportunity to develop our own custom bourbon with these trailblazing women is so special for me. It is also a nod to Margie Samuels, whose imprint on Maker’s Mark – from the hand-torn label to the iconic red wax – is legendary.”

Bill Samuels, Sr., created the Maker’s Mark recipe, but his wife, Margie, gave the whisky its name. She also designed the Maker’s Mark label and bottle, identified the distinctive font on the bottles, and perhaps most notably, developed the idea of hand-dipping the bottles in red wax.

To learn more about “Women Who Whiskey”, please visit and for more information on the Maker’s Mark barrel customization process, visit:

About Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors

Major Brands is the largest Missouri-owned and operated distributor of premium wine, spirits beer and non-alcoholic beverages, with offices in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and Cape Girardeau. Major Brands employs more than 600 people and serves more than 9,000 retail customers. It began operations in 1934 and remains family owned and operated. For more information visit,

About Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
In 1954, in Loretto, Kentucky, Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small-batches, using soft red winter wheat, with a proprietary barrel char to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency, and finally, aged each barrel to taste. Bill Samuels, Sr., transformed bourbon from a “commodity” into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker’s Mark® continues to make its bourbon exactly the same way. In recent years, Maker’s Mark has introduced thoughtful, super-premium innovations to its portfolio including Maker’s 46®, Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength and Maker’s Mark Private Select™, the brand’s first-ever custom barrel program.

In 1980, the Maker’s Mark distillery became the first distillery in America to be designated a National Historic Landmark and has also been decreed as the “world’s oldest operating bourbon whisky distillery” by Guinness World Records. It remains one of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. For more information, please visit



Maker’s Mark®, Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength and Maker’s 46® Bourbon Whisky, 45-57% Alc./Vol. ©2018 Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc., Loretto, KY.