Industry stalwarts inducted into Bourbon Hall of Fame

Six industry luminaries, including Willett Distillery’s Even Kulsveen and Angel’s Envy’s Wesley Henderson, have been inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Each year since 2001, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA), welcomes a number of revered industry members to its fold.

It is said to be the “highest honour” given to Bourbon professionals and is presented annually at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which took place last week.

Candidates are nominated by the KDA and its member distillers across four categories: Industry, Journalism, Roll of Honour and Lifetime Achievement.

This year’s inductees are: Katrina Egbert, visitor centre marketing co-ordinator, Wild Turkey Distillery; Wesley Henderson, co-founder and chief innovation officer, Louisville Distilling Co, owner of Angel’s Envy; Larry Kass, director of trade relations, Heaven Hill Distillery; Charles W Medley, master distiller, Medley Distilling Co/Charles Medley Distillery; Peggy Noe Stevens, founder and president, Peggy Noe Stevens & Associates; and Even Kulsveen, executive director, Willett Distillery.

“This is a special year as six venerable professionals whose dedication, ingenuity and enthusiasm have contributed to Kentucky’s Bourbon boom will be so publicly recognised,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

“Each of these industry champions has found ways to influence and spur the growth of Kentucky’s beloved Bourbon industry, and it’s time we show our sincere appreciation for their vision and commitment to our timeless craft.”

Lifetime achievement

Kulsveen was also presented with the further accolade of the Parker Beam Lifetime Achievement Award. The KDA described him as a “beloved icon who patiently resurrected one of the state’s most historic distilleries and returned the family-owned brand to global prominence”.

His Willett Distillery, which remains family owned and operated, started production in 2012 after several years of renovations and a prolonged period of dormancy.

“Even has worked on all sides of this industry from bartending to distribution to imports,” said KDA’s Gregory. “His intricate knowledge of marketing, along with his principled work ethic, enabled him to build brands and cultivate the type of loyalty that drives consistent consumer demand.”

Britt Kulsveen, daughter of Even Kulsveen and president and chief whiskey officer for Willett Distillery, added: “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.”

The award is named in honour of the late Parker Beam, Heaven Hill’s master distiller emeritus who died in 2017.

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