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 distilling 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 so he could come home to his family every night. Lambert worked 6 days a week for nearly a decade at Bernhiem.
Est. 1936. Three short years after prohibition, on the site of the family hog and cattle farm, Thompson began 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 55,000 annual visitors have necessitated a number of expansion projects on the Willett property including the addition of a premium cocktail bar.