MOUNT VERNON, VA – The George Washington Spirits Society inducted five new members at an industry heritage celebration last night at Historic Mount Vernon, the Distilled Spirits Council announced.

The 2008 inductees are: U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); the Honorable Frank Keating, former Governor of Oklahoma; Patrick Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard; Esther H. Vassar, former Chair and present Commissioner of the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Board; and Bennett Glazer, Chairman and CEO of Glazer’s Family of Companies.

“These distinguished individuals exemplify the outstanding qualities exhibited by our nation’s first President in his life, his business enterprises, and his service to his country,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter H. Cressy.  “George Washington’s Spirits Society exists to celebrate, manifest and uphold the noble traits and high standards exhibited by our Founding Father.”

The honorees were inducted during a special reception and dinner at Mount Vernon hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.  This year’s gala honored George Washington’s long friendship with the Marquis de Lafayette, whose support for the American cause for independence was essential.  Appropriately, Francois Rivasseau, Deputy Chief of the French Mission to the United States, bestowed medals upon the new inductees.

Each honoree was inducted as “Guardian of His Spirit” and presented a medal made through an antique process using burnished silver over pewter, featuring an image of George Washington with the words “Heritage, Responsibility and Integrity” on one side and a replica of George Washington’s copper pot still on the other side.

The inductees were selected by the Board of Trustees of the George Washington Spirits Society, which is made up of representatives of America’s leading distillers and Historic Mount Vernon.

The event also featured an auction of rare American spirits, including Martha Washington’s Colonial Rum, a limited edition colonial-style spirit distilled, aged and hand-bottled at Historic Mount Vernon.

Attended by more than 700 guests including legislators, industry leaders and the media, the evening raised more than $270,000 for the new George Washington Education and Orientation Center, bringing the grand total for the history of this event to over  $1,800,000.


U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), has distinguished himself as a remarkable state and national leader.  A former naval aviator and attorney, Harkin served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He won election to the U.S. Senate in 1984, is presently in his fourth term, and is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  He is a long time advocate for health care.  Harkin also authored the 1990 landmark legislation, Americans with Disability Act.  He is a strong and effective advocate for education, working to reduce class size and improve teacher training.

The Honorable Frank Keating, former Governor of Oklahoma, has distinguished himself as an extraordinary state and national leader.  As Governor of Oklahoma, Keating’s leadership in the aftermath of the tragic Oklahoma City bombing was remarkable.  His immediate mobilization of relief and rescue teams brought comfort to the victims and their families and restored order that ensured a rapid recovery for the city and state.  His service to the nation has included assignments as a U.S. Attorney, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Associate Attorney General and Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  Throughout his career, Governor Keating has championed education, social reform, tax reform and law enforcement.  He is also the author of an award winning series of children’s history books.

Patrick Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, has distinguished himself as an extraordinary international leader of the spirits industry and by his concern for corporate responsibility.  His acquisition strategy and international vision have resulted in Pernod Ricard becoming the second largest spirits company in the world.  He is a strong supporter of oceanographic concerns, protecting marine mammals, promoting biodiversity and combating pollution.  In addition, Ricard is a major benefactor of the arts, music and culture in France, the United States and internationally.

Esther H. Vassar, Former Chair and Present Commissioner of the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Board, has distinguished herself by a lifetime of dedicated service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Vassar has served in the Administrations of three Virginia Governors.  A leader in education and an effective advocate for equal rights, she was the first African American woman to be appointed Chair of the Virginia ABC Board.  In this capacity, she led the effort to modernize the Virginia Control State Alcohol System, expanding the state’s social responsibility efforts.  Vassar’s volunteer and charitable work has been extraordinary.  She has worked tirelessly for the United Way, the Urban League, the Boys and Girls Club, and the United Negro College Fund among others.  Particularly noteworthy has been her leadership of the Oliver W. Hill Foundation, established to honor one of America’s foremost equal rights leaders.

Bennett Glazer, Chairman and CEO of Glazer’s Family of Companies, has distinguished himself by his extraordinarily successful leadership within the spirits and wine industry and his lifetime of dedication to philanthropic concerns.  He has grown Glazer’s into a 12 state enterprise and is a leading advocate for social responsibility within the industry.  Led by Bennett, the Glazer family has been a mainstay of Texas philanthropy contributing enormously to a broad range of medical and health charities.  He has also been generous to a broad range of other concerns including the United Negro College Fund, Catholic Charities, Jewish charities, and immigrant services.  Importantly, Glazer was personally involved in a concerted and effective response to the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.