Celebration of Life: Al Young

Photo by Hunter Zieske.

1942 – 2019

Al Young, 77, of Lexington, Kentucky, passed away peacefully on Dec. 25, 2019 with his family by his side. Al was a husband, father, grandfather and friend to many who knew and loved him.

Al was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 20, 1942 to the late Albert W. Young Sr. and Arnie Maynard Young. Al is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gretchen; his children, Marc Young (Donna), Heather Raker (Neal) and Christine Fisher (Terry); and his grandchildren, Anna, Laura, Clayton and Oliver, all of whom he loved dearly.

He attended Waggener High School in Louisville and was part of the first graduating class in 1960. He then went on to obtain his undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University in 1964.

Al quickly became interested in performing, which comes as no surprise to those who have had the true pleasure of meeting him. Following college, he obtained a master’s degree in fine arts from Southern Illinois University and then worked as the publicity director for Actors Theatre of Louisville.

In 1967, following the suggestion of his then-fiancée, Gretchen, who believed that distilling would be more stable than acting, Al accepted a position with Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Al began his bourbon career on June 5, 1967, and two weeks later he and Gretchen were married.

Al dutifully served Four Roses in a variety of roles over five decades. In 1990, he became distillery manager, and in 2007 was named brand ambassador, a role where he crossed the country and the globe, sharing the story of Four Roses and sharing his smile with the world. He was also the historian for the 130-year old bourbon brand, having researched archives, distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts before authoring the book “Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend.”

Al was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2011. More than that, Al embodied the spirit of bourbon. He was a friend to all, always there with a story and ready for a good laugh together.

Outside of his notable career, Al most enjoyed building model sail ships, collecting miniature figurines, drawing and painting, traveling and spending time with his family.

A stalwart in the bourbon industry and a loving and dedicated family man, Al’s legacy will be celebrated forever.

Visitation and funeral services were held Jan. 3 and 4 at Trinity Hill United Methodist Church in Lexington.

In lieu, of flowers donations can be made to the UK Markey Cancer Center, 800 Rose St., Pavilion CC, Lexington, KY, 40536; Bluegrass Care Navigators, 2312 Alexandria Dr., Lexington, KY, 40504; or Trinity Hill United Methodist Church, 3600 Tates Creek Rd., Lexington, KY, 40517.

Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, located on Harrodsburg Road in Lexington, handled arrangements.