Willet Distillery


In the spring of 1937, the Willett Distilling Company produced its first batch of whiskey. That first batch amounted to 300 bushels (30 barrels) on March 17, 1937, St. Patrick's Day. The newly barrelled whiskey was stored in the traditional metal-clad warehouses, capable of holding between 5,000 and 6,000 barrels. The warehouses were built on some of the highest ground in the county, assuring a fresh breeze would aid in the maturation of the whiskey. At the beginning, the Willetts ran a charged beer still and operated it for a decade before it was replaced with a columnar or coffee still. Five years after the foundation of the Willett Distilling Company, Lambert retired from the Bernheim Distillery to manage the farm and assist in overseeing the Willett Family Distillery in Bardstown. The Willetts hired Charlie Thomason as Master Distiller. Charlie Thomason was a native of Anderson County, Kentucky and had been a Master Distiller at a number of distilleries in the area before and after prohibition. Robert Willett, left his law practice in Washington, D.C. in the 1970’s to join his brothers in the family business. The Willett Distilling Company continued to operate until the early 1980’s. On December 16, 1972, Even G. Kulsveen married Martha Harriet Willett at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Bardstown, Kentucky. On July 1, 1984, Even G. Kulsveen, son-in-law to Thompson Willett, purchased the property and formed Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd Even Kulsveen continues to operate at the facility to this day. Martha is President of the Company. Even's son, Drew Kulsveen, joined his father in the beginning of 2004 and Even's daughter, Britt Kulsveen Chavanne, and her husband, Hunter Chavanne, joined the business towards the end of 2005.

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