Historic first for AMBA; distilling member chosen to lead board of malting barley trade association

A historic milestone was met during the winter board meeting of the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA), held on November 30th in Madison, WI. Leonard E. Lee, Senior Global Category Manager for Grains and Energy at Brown-Forman, was elected as Chair of the Board after serving as vice-chair for the past year. He will hold that position for two years and will be supported by newly elected vice-chair, Shannon Ambrosio, Senior Manager of Golden Malting at Molson Coors Beverage Company. Brown-Forman, the AMBA member company Lee represents, has a diverse barley enriched spirit portfolio including such whiskey brands as Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Slane, BenRiach, GlenDronach and GlenGlassaugh, and has been a member since 2012. 

AMBA began soliciting distilling members, recognizing their unique industry needs for barley and malt procurement. As distillers began to join, the organization began providing guidelines for barley breeders that outlined quality specifications required for distilled spirit production. In addition to Brown-Forman, other AMBA distilling members include a diverse portfolio of brands from Beam Suntory and a growing segment of craft distillers. “We look forward to the perspectives that Leonard will bring to this leadership position, and are excited about the tremendous growth in this industry sector,” shared Scott Heisel, AMBA president. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. shared in their 2021 Annual Report that the distilled spirit industry realized volume growth by nearly 10% last year, resulting in 12% revenue growth. This marked the 12th straight year of market share gains. 

“Barley research and development are intrinsically linked to Brown Forman’s growth and environmental stewardship. Therefore, we fully support AMBA’s mission and I look forward to being a part of this great work,” commented Lee on his company’s commitment to the work of the Association. Lee succeeds outgoing chair, John Mallett, Vice President of Brewing and Quality at New Belgium-Bell’s Brewing, who provided tremendous support to the organization throughout the pandemic and an evolving industry landscape. Mallett will continue to serve on the Executive Committee, representing the craft beer industry. “Resiliency, both for malting barley as a crop, and as a strategic focus for AMBA, has been a constant theme for the past few years. I am excited to see changes that Leonard Lee will drive in our ever-evolving environment,” shared Mallett on the transition. 

The American Malting Barley Association is a trade organization, which represents the interests of end users of malting barley, including maltsters, brewers, distillers, and food processors. Their work seeks to maintain a stable and high quality supply of malting barley for their members throughout the U.S. Learn more here: www.ambainc.org