Three years ago, one month from today, I was given a bottle of whiskey to celebrate the hopeful end of my cancer journey. That bottle, from my dear friend Dana, was Kentucky Straight Rye from Michter’s American Whiskey. One sip was all it took to make me a fan, and to this day at least one of their sour mash specials is always on my shelf.
Fandom became fascination when I learned that their leadership team at the time included both a female Master Distiller and Master of Maturation, who together ensured the product excellence that consumers have come to expect from this resurrected legacy brand. Two years later, at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Women in Distilling panel discussion including Andrea Wilson, who is now both the Master of Maturation and Executive Vice President – General Manager at Michter’s. She graciously agreed to show me around their newly opened Fort Nelson Distillery in Downtown Louisville and share the Michter’s story and her personal journey in the spirits business on our 502 Leader Series Podcast!
My early morning experience with Andrea was one of my favorite whiskey memories to date. She welcomed me into the Fort Nelson Distillery space on 8th and Main outside of normal business hours, and escorted me through each piece of their visitor experience, sharing the rich history of the brand, the zeal of the Magliocco family to restore it, their purposeful practices sparing no expense to achieve desired results, the genuine love that all team members share for the company, and their collective passion to ensure its long term success.
From the antique cypress fermenters, rescued from the original Michter’s Distillery in Pennsylvania, to the gorgeous tasting space, every detail is done with intention. I was overwhelmed with the care taken during every tour to be sure guests understand the WHY behind each choice made in the distillation process. All decisions are based on what is going to make the best product, even if it is not the most cost effective route. For example, they have the lowest barrel entry proof of any distiller of scale, which may not mean a lot to some, but anyone who knows whiskey knows this a costly process because you use more barrels and don’t get as many bottles out of it. But, it makes a smooth product where the flavors shine in ways that wouldn’t be possible if it had been watered down during bottling.
Listen in for more about the magic of Michter’s and plan a visit to the Fort Nelson Distillery to experience the full tour, taste their collection of bourbon and whiskey, and feel the difference when a brand is not just a business, but a family.