Chris Morris was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1958. Morris began his career in the whiskey industry in 1976 as a trainee in Louisville in Brown-Forman’s central lab as a summer internship while going to school. In 1980 after graduating from college from Bellarmine University in Louisville with a degree in business he came aboard Brown-Forman full time.
He worked on the production side of the distilling business until 1988. Then he took a promotion and was transferred to the Glenmore Distilleries in Owensboro, Kentucky. In 1991 that distillery was sold by Brown-Forman to United Distillers. In 1992 Morris introduced the use of term “tasting notes” for bourbon and documented dozens for use. Six years after departing Chris returned to Brown-Forman. In 1997, Chris was named Apprentice Master Distiller working for Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, the creator of Woodford Reserve.
In 2002 Chris developed the Bourbon Flavor Wheel and in 2003 Henderson retired and Morris succeeded him as only the second Master Distiller in Woodford Reserve’s short history but also appointed as only the seventh Master Distiller since 1870 over all of Brown-Forman’s entire operation. In 2004 Chris penned the Society of Wine Educator’s Certified Spirits Specialist program.
Soon thereafter Chris was responsible for creating the world’s first barrel finished bourbons in both Chardonnay Casks and separately Pinot Noir Casks. Morris also pioneered the world’s first maple barrel finished bourbon in 2009 with “Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Maplewood;” this was a task that was difficult to say the least but made substantially easier when your company has its own cooperage at its beck and call. That first maple product led Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold.
Morris oversees the other Master Distillers at Brown-Forman’s traditional lines such as Old Forester, Early Times, Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist and Collingwood. In the last 10 years Chris has turned into somewhat of a mad scientist, inventing such notable brands as the wildly successful Old Forester Whiskey Row Series and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. He also developed all 17 of the Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection releases, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Woodford Reseve Single Malt Whiskey and Woodford Reserve Rye.
In August 2015, Morris was promoted again to be the Vice President of Whiskey Innovation for the entire Brown-Forman Corporation. Chris Morris received the one of the industry’s highest honors when he was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2017. Morris became only the 6th member of the Brown-Forman family to be inducted behind his mentor Lincoln Henderson, the company’s founder George Garvin Brown, Owsley Brown, I, Jack Beam, the inventor of Early Times and Owsley Brown, II.