First-time award honors WTD owner for his efforts to help others combat Covid-19

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced that Shane Baker of Wilderness Trail Distillery and KDA Board Chairwoman Jessica Pendergrass of Heaven Hill Distillery are the recipients of a new award honoring industry leaders who personify the legendary group’s spirit of camaraderie and integrity.
The esteemed Esprit de Corps Award can be bestowed by the KDA Board Chair to individuals who have, “by demonstrable and honorable action,” gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the mission of the KDA and Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry, KDA President Eric Gregory said.
“Throughout our industry’s history, KDA members have risen to meet unforeseen challenges and this year was no different,” Gregory said. “The technical expertise of Shane Baker was instrumental in protecting Kentuckians against COVID-19 and the leadership of Jessica Pendergrass was vital in addressing deep-seated social issues.
“Their vision, dedication and unrelenting efforts have strengthened our venerable Association and our historic, homegrown industry. They symbolize our maxim that we are stronger by working together than standing apart. For that, we are proud to honor them with this new award and offer our utmost and truest thanks.”
Chairwoman Pendergrass conferred the inaugural award to Baker last week at the KDA’s 140th Annual Meeting of Members, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baker, one of the founders of Wilderness Trail in Danville, received an engraved medal in recognition of his exceptional service.
The Board’s Resolution saluted Baker “for his technical education, assistance and collaborative efforts in the production and distribution of hand sanitizer in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and for his overall support, assistance and guidance to other members of the KDA throughout his tenure with the organization.
“Mr. Baker’s outstanding service and devotion to his community and to the cause helped our beloved Commonwealth contain the early spread of the virus and protected hundreds of doctors, first responders and emergency personnel through the donation of sanitizer and the assistance to KDA members in its manufacture
and coordination of resources,” the Resolution stated.
Baker said, “This is such a prestigious honor bestowed upon me by an organization I hold in the highest degree of respect, for not only the positive impacts made by our members within our local communities, but how time-honored traditions and values of our members have always strived to put others first. “When I learned of receiving this award, a floodgate of emotions released from everything 2020 had thrown at us and it left me speechless. No different than so many others during this time, my efforts were driven to help those in need without question and utilize our resources to assist everyone during an unprecedented time of need.
“Through teamwork and unwavering commitments from the Kentucky Distillers Association members, I am proud to have been able to assist others and humbled for being recognized for our efforts during this time.”

Wilderness Trail made more than 125,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and donated a third of it to medical personnel and first responders.

Pendergrass honored

Later in the meeting, as the Board commended Pendergrass for her outstanding performance as Chairwoman during the many unprecedented challenges of 2020, Vice Chairwoman Pauline Rooney surprised Pendergrass with the second-ever Esprit de Corps award.
“During her tenure in office, Chairwoman Pendergrass devoted countless hours of her time and a tremendous deal of energy and personal sacrifice in guiding the Association in the many difficult and unexpected matters presented during her term,” the Board’s Resolution stated.
“As Chairwoman Pendergrass has demonstrated true camaraderie, visionary leadership and immense devotion to the KDA and the industry in these trying times, the Board of Directors is honored to present her with the KDA Esprit de Corps Award for her overall support, assistance and guidance to the members of the KDA.”
Pendergrass, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Heaven Hill Distilleries, is only the third woman to chair the KDA’s Board of Directors. Rooney, who is Vice President of Distillation and Maturation for Diageo North America, was second in 2015.
The first was Andrea Wilson, who is now Executive Vice President and General Manager of Michter’s Distillery, in 2009. Pendergrass also received an engraved medal amid cheers of thanks from KDA members for her tireless service and devotion during these trying times.
“This has been a challenging year for all of us, but 2020 has also been a year of hope and possibility,” Pendergrass said. “I am truly honored to be recognized by my colleagues in the distilling industry and look forward to continuing our work in 2021 to create lasting, meaningful change as we continue to expand inclusion
in our industry to make it welcoming for everyone.”

Date: Nov 19, 2020 — Nov 19, 2020