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Melissa Rift Steps Into Old Forester’s Brand Ambassador/Master Taster Role

When it was announced earlier this year Old Forester master taster Jackie Zykan was stepping away from the brand she had a pivotal role in growing, one major unanswered question was who would take that coveted position over. A worthy successor was recently named – Melissa Rift.

Rift, a Louisville, Kentucky native, is said to have gained “a holistic understanding of the growing bourbon industry from her beginnings as a bourbon tour guide. Most recently, she held a leadership role at Beam Suntory and previously served as Single Barrel Program Director at Bulleit Distilling Co.”

In her new role, Rift “will help continue the revitalization of Old Forester, the only bourbon to exist before, during and after Prohibition and the founding brand of Brown-Forman.”

Old Forester Melissa Rift
Old Forester recently announced that Kentucky native Melissa Rift has been named Brand Ambassador/Master Taster, a role formerly held by Jackie Zykan. (image via Brown-Forman)

“As the country’s first bottled bourbon, Old Forester has such a history – but also an opportunity to usher in a new era for the entire industry,” Rift said in a prepared statement. “There’s nothing better in the market than Old Forester – and I look forward to introducing more people to this authentic brand.”

“Melissa brings a dynamic personality, a devotion to the bourbon industry and an enthusiasm for the rich heritage of our 152-year-old brand,” added Mark Bacon, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Super-Premium American Whiskey. “We’re thrilled to welcome her to the Brown-Forman family and are excited for her insights to amplify this new chapter in Old Forester’s legacy.”

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