September 19, 2019 – Six new legends joined some of Bourbon’s greatest names today as the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2019 during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. The class is led by Willett Distillery’s Even Kulsveen, who was also presented with the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony.
Kulsveen and his wife Martha are credited with reviving the family’s distillery founded by her father in the hills above Bardstown, along with becoming one of the largest independent bottlers and exporters of Kentucky Bourbon worldwide. Today, their daughter Britt is Willett’s president, while son Drew oversees distilling and blending operations at the company. In a news release, Britt Kulsveen said “our father has lived several lifetimes with all of the career paths he has taken – from tending bar to having a glass factory that produced decanters and envisioning the kingdom we have built together as a family today. We have always said that he is lifetimes ahead of his time with all of the innovative, genius creations he has imagined and brought to fruition. This award is a long time coming.”
Other inductees include Charles W. Medley, a member of Owensboro’s legendary Medley family and longtime master distiller at the former Medley Distillery, retired Heaven Hill director of trade and media relations Larry Kass, longtime Brown-Forman executive and Bourbon Women founder Peggy Noe Stevens, and Katrina Egbert of Wild Turkey. Egbert’s official title is “visitor center marketing coordinator,” but she’s more widely known as being the right-hand person for legendary Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell for more than 30 years.
There was one second-generation inductee into the Hall of Fame. Angel’s Envy co-founder and chief innovation officer Wes Henderson rounds out the class, and joined his father, the late Lincoln Henderson, in the Hall of Fame. Lincoln Henderson was the longtime master distiller at Brown-Forman and a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2001.
The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals and groups that have made significant impacts on the Kentucky Bourbon industry, and is a partnership between the Kentucky Distillers Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Candidates are nominated each year by the association, its member distilleries, and the Bourbon Festival board – with the KDA board voting on those nominees to be inducted.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on September 17, and was updated following the induction ceremony.
Links: Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame | Kentucky Distillers Association | Kentucky Bourbon Festival