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Willett Distillery

The modern era has proved to be incredibly exciting and fruitful time for Willett Distillery. After renovations of the distillery took place in 2012, the Bardstown bourbon makers, who known between 1984 and 2012 primarily as the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD), shifted from its practice of operating as an independent bottling company to actually distilling its own whiskey. A wealth of releases followed, including Willett’s 3 Year Old Family Estate Bottled Rye, after the first barrel of new-make bourbon whiskey was put into Warehouse A for storage on January 27th, which would have been founder Thompson Willett’s 103rd birthday. Thompson Willett established the distillery near the family farm in 1936, at the tender age of 27. Sitting on the outskirts of the famous Bardstown, Kentucky, known as the ‘Bourbon Capital of the World,’ construction was completed in 1937 and the first batch of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, which amounted to around 30 barrels, was produced on March 17, 1937. It was stored in one of the family’s rickhouses each capable of holding between 4,000 and 5,000 whiskey barrels. The rickhouses were were built on some of the highest ground in the county to attract a strong breeze to aid in the maturation of the bourbon. Today, there are a total of eight bonded warehouses on the premises, with a total on-site capacity of 48,623 barrels. The legacy of Willett Distillery and the KBD brand was assured in the hands of Martha Harriet Willett, the daughter of Thompson Willett, who married Even G. Kulsveen in 1972. Kulsveen subsequently purchased the company and the property on July 1, 1984, and it was he who renamed it the ‘Kentucky Bourbon Distillers’ (KBD). The husband and wife team began to run the facility together from this time and still do to this day. Their son Even E. A. "Drew" Kulsveen is the current master distiller and manages production. Today, Willett Distillery has managed to combine the development of its own portfolio as well as maintaining Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, Kentucky Vintage and Johnny Drum, all brands that Willett has selected, batched and bottled barrels for previously.

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