Willie Pratt – 2017

Master distiller emeritus – Michter’s Distillery

A true native son of Kentucky, Willie Pratt was born in 1942 to a family living in Hazard, a town in the coal-mining area of Eastern Kentucky. After moving to Louisville, he joined Brown-Forman at age 20. While working full-time, he attended evening classes and earned his degree from the University of Louisville. Working at Brown-Forman for over four decades, he served in various positions at the company, and for a period of years joined his close friend Lincoln Henderson on Brown-Forman’s committee studying distillation, cooperage, and ageing conditions.

Willie retired from Brown-Forman at age 65 but his love of whiskey and whiskey people brought him back to the industry from retirement. He joined Michter’s as the company’s master distiller and initially oversaw its production program conducted at another Kentucky distillery before Michter’s had the capital for its own bricks and mortar. Willie embarked on the daunting task of designing and building a new distillery for Michter’s in the Shively section of Louisville. In this state of the art distillery, Willie has combined science and modern methodology with traditional Kentucky whiskey practices.

Perhaps the only master distiller to share the name of a James Bond villain, Willie was nicknamed ‘Dr No’ by the Michter’s sales force because of his refusal to release stocks for bottling until he felt they were properly matured and just right. Willie currently serves Michter’s in the position of master distiller emeritus.


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