Drew Kulsveen Named James Beard Award Finalist

For Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer

BARDSTOWN, K.Y. (May 06, 2020) – Willett Distillery’s Master Distiller, Drew Kulsveen has been named a finalist for the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirit Producer.

After graduating from Western Kentucky University where he received degrees in marketing and economics, Drew came back to learn the family business and joined the team in 2003. Willett Distillery was founded in 1936 by Thompson Willett and on March 17th, 1937 they put their first barrel into storage. Over 80 years later and with Drew at the helm they are still producing some of the finest whiskey in the United States.

Initially, Drew spent much of his time studying the careful precision of co-mingling whiskey but soon Drew’s knack for all things engineering would land him in the distillery.  Over the years, Drew has developed additional mash bills to expand the company’s bourbon and rye portfolio earning him four semifinalist nominations for James Beard Awards in the outstanding spirits professional category and this being his first time becoming a finalist.

Being immersed in the business allowed Drew to find the path to becoming master distiller. He spent years rebuilding the distillery with his father and learned a tremendous amount during that process. He has worked with original mash bills that date back hundreds of years from his family and has built new mash bills that have been used in the High Rye, Johnny Drum and Pure Kentucky.

His first release was the Willett Family Estate brand in 2008, where he introduced Bottled Bourbon, Bottled Rye and the Pot Still Reserve in the signature pot still shaped bottle fashioned using the original still blueprints.

“It is always an honor to be nominated and to be in the company of other great wine, beer and spirit producers,” says Master Distiller, Drew Kulsveen. “This is a true family business and everyone that is a part of our team helped achieve this nomination. Everyone is all hands-on deck and that makes this that much more special because I get to share this with them.”

Restaurant & Chef Award winners are now slated to be announced on Friday, September 25, 2020, from Chicago, broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed.