The Willett family distilling legacy began in Kentucky shortly after the Civil War. John David Willett was the Master Distiller and part owner of Moore, Willett & Frenke Distillery in Bardstown, KY. John David’s son Lambert Willett walked 5 miles each way to his distill- ing job at the current site of Barton’s. It wasn’t until Lambert began working at the Bernhiem Distillery in Louisville that he purchased a car for his commute. Lambert worked 6 days a week for nearly a decade at Bernhiem.
During prohibition, Lambert raised cattle and hogs to support his family and community. The effects of prohibition were devastating to the Bourbon Capitol of the World. Immediately following the repeal of prohibition in December of 1933, Lambert’s son Thompson Willett began learning the distilling trade working alongside his father at the age of 25.
Est. 1936. Three short years after prohibition, the Willett family chose the highest point in Nelson County, Kentucky to begin construction on what is now the Willett Distillery. By St Patrick’s Day 1937, the first barrel of whiskey was rolled into Warehouse A.
After 80 years, Willett remains independently family owned and operated. Under the leadership of parents Even and Martha Willett Kulsveen, the fifth generation of family distillers, siblings Britt and Drew Kulsveen, are continuing the family tradition of spirits excellence, generosity and southern hospitality. Janelle Kulsveen, Drew’s wife, hosts visitors from all over the world for tours and tastings. The over 43,000 annual visitors have necessitated a number of expansion projects on the Willett property including the addition of a premium cocktail bar.
Family of Brands: Willett Pot Still Reserve, Johnny Drum Private Stock, Johnny Drum Black Label, Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond, Old Bardstown Estate Bottled, Old Bardstown 90 Proof, Noah’s Mill, Row- an’s Creek, Pure Kentucky, Kentucky Vintage and the Willett Family Estate collection.