George Washington Spirit Society Inducts 3 New Members

WASHINGTON, DC – The Distilled Spirits Council’s 13th annual “Spirit of Mount Vernon” heritage dinner and rare spirits auction held last night on the lawn of Mount Vernon raised over $400,000 for Mount Vernon and $50,000 for the Wounded Warriors Family Support Program.  This brings the grand total for the history of this event to over $3.25 million.

“It has been a great honor for the spirits industry to support Mount Vernon’s educational programs,” said Peter Cressy, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, which sponsored the gala.  “George Washington was not only a great leader, General and President, but he was also a savvy entrepreneur and the most successful whiskey distiller of his time. Our partnership has helped to raise awareness of the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation’s first president and demonstrate the important role of spirits in our nation’s history.”

The live auction featured a first-ever limited edition George Washington’s Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey signed by former President Bill Clinton, which sold for $32,000.  This extremely rare whiskey, #11 of 24 bottles, came from the very first batch of rye whiskey distilled at Mount Vernon in 200 years.  It was produced on Oct. 21, 2003 on the distillery grounds by a collaborative team of master distillers from the nation’s top whiskey brands according to the historic recipe found in George Washington’s mansion records, and hand-bottled on Sept. 26, 2006.

The gala dinner was attended by over 800 guests, including members of Congress, Ambassadors, CEOs of major trade associations, industry leaders and the media.  In addition to the Distilled Spirits Council, the event is sponsored by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, the American Bankers Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the International Franchise Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Trucking Associations and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

George Washington Spirit Society Inductees Honored:

During the event, three new members were inducted into the George Washington Spirit Society.  The 2014 inductees include: The Honorable Dave Camp (R-MI); Christophe Navarre, Chairman and CEO of Moët Hennessy; and Charles Merinoff, Chairman and CEO of Charmer Sunbelt Group.

“The George Washington Spirits Society exists to celebrate, manifest and uphold the noble traits and high standards exhibited by our Founding Father,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter H. Cressy.  “The spirits industry is honored to celebrate the outstanding contributions of these three exemplary leaders who have each in their own way helped to enrich and inspire their communities, their state or their country.”

The Honorable Dave Camp

The Honorable Dave Camp, a 12-term U.S. Representative from Michigan, has distinguished himself by his exemplary service to his state and country as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation.  He also has held important positions on the Agriculture Committee, Subcommittee on Human Resources and Subcommittee on Trade.  He has served as Majority Whip and as a leading member of the Bowles-Simpson Commission.

Rep. Camp is an ardent advocate of lower tax rates for American families and employers, a simplification of the U.S. tax code and an expansion in trade policies that benefit American exports.

Mr. Christophe Navarre

Mr. Christophe Navarre, Chairman and CEO of Moët Hennessy, has distinguished himself by his remarkable leadership of the international business community and social responsibility.  In 2013, Navarre received the prestigious Meridian Corporate Leader Award for his “unwavering commitment to international cooperation and global engagement.”  He was also recently elected as President of the Wine and Spirits Export Federation of France and has been decorated by both the French and Belgian governments.

Through Navarre’s leadership of philanthropic and cultural efforts, Moët Hennessy became an original partner and ongoing supporter of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.  Additionally, Moët Hennessy became a major supporter of the reconstruction of Lafayette’s ship, L’Hermione, and will be the primary sponsor of the historic ship’s return voyage to America in 2015.

Mr. Charles Merinoff  

Mr. Charles Merinoff, longtime CEO and Chairman of Charmer Sunbelt Group, one of the nation’s largest spirits and wine wholesalers, has distinguished himself by his extraordinary service to his community and leadership of the beverage alcohol industry.  As Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, he led the industry in “We Don’t Serve Teens,” a nationwide social responsibility effort.

Merinoff’s philanthropic and charitable contributions have been equally remarkable and have included support for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Culinary Institute of America, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Long Island Jewish Health System, the UJA Federation and the Boy Scouts of America.

“Guardian of His Spirit”

Each honoree was inducted as a “Guardian of His Spirit.”  Honorees were selected by the Board of Trustees of the George Washington Spirit Society, which is comprised of representatives from America’s leading distillers and Historic Mount Vernon.

The awards were presented by Ambassador Gérard Araud, the Ambassador of France to the United States, and the Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, a two-term Governor, former U.S. Senator and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Previous inductees of the George Washington Spirits Society include: Ambassador W. L. Lyons Brown, Jr.; General Alfred M. Gray, USMC (ret.); A. Raymond Tye; Charles Bailes, Jr.; Harvey R. Chaplin; The Honorable Jim Bunning; Herman I. Merinoff; Harold A. “Hal” Gershman; Bill Samuels, Jr.; The Honorable Tommy Thompson; The Honorable Ron Lewis; Judge Ruth Sussman (posthumously); Raymond Herrmann, Jr.; Paul S. Walsh; Marvin R. Shanken; William Goldring; Sidney E. Frank (posthumously); The Honorable James E. Clyburn; Baroness Jean Coussins; Thomas J. Donohue; Robert Epstein; William Wirtz (posthumously); The Honorable Tom Harkin; The Honorable Frank Keating; Patrick Ricard; Esther Vassar; Bennett Glazer; The Honorable Shelley Berkley; Red Cavaney; The Honorable John E. Jones III; Vern Underwood, Jr.; Apolo Ohno; James L. Bareuther; Jeff Becker (posthumously); The Honorable John Yarmuth; The Honorable Harold D. Rogers; The Honorable Dan A. Gwadosky (posthumously); Douglas J. Hertz; Richard Leventhal; Robert M. Selby; James C. Rees IV; The Honorable Heidi Heitkamp; The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne and Alan W. Dreeben.