Country for PR: United States
Contributor: PR Newswire New York
Tuesday, December 29 2020 - 11:25
Michter's Mourns The Loss Of Master Distiller Emeritus Willie Pratt
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky., Dec. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

It is with profound sadness that Michter's announces the passing yesterday of 
Master Distiller Emeritus Willie Pratt. 

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Born in 1942 to a school teacher mother and a coal miner father living in the 
town of Hazard in Eastern Kentucky, Willie set out to Louisville to seek 
employment at age 20. He joined the great distiller Brown-Forman, which paid 
for his education as he attended evening classes and earned his degree from 
University of Louisville. Willie worked over four decades in a variety of 
positions at Brown-Forman, where he served for a period of years on the 
company's committee studying distillation, cooperage, and aging conditions.

At age 65, Willie retired from Brown-Forman, but his passion for the bourbon 
industry led him back to work. In 2007 Willie joined Michter's as its Master 
Distiller. At the start of his tenure at the company, he oversaw Michter's 
production program which was conducted at another Kentucky distillery before 
Michter's could afford its own brick and mortar facility. Eventually Willie 
oversaw the design and the building of the state-of-the-art Michter's Shively 
Distillery. When Willie decided to work a reduced schedule, he turned over the 
Michter's Master Distiller position to Pam Heilmann, who was eventually 
succeeded by Dan McKee. Willie continued to serve as the company's Master 
Distiller Emeritus and remained actively involved in Michter's production until 
his passing. 

In 2017 Willie was inducted into The Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. "To work 
with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift. When the 
challenges seemed overwhelming, that's when Willie's leadership would shine 
through. He was a paradigm of strength and courage," said Michter's President 
Joseph J. Magliocco. Laser focused on quality, Willie was good naturedly 
referred to as "Dr. No" by the Michter's salespeople for his refusing to 
release whiskey for bottling until he deemed it just right, even though the 
whiskey may have been significantly older than the age statement on the label. 

Willie was respected and beloved by the Michter's team he helped to build. 
"Times like this make me realize how fortunate I was to be able to learn from 
one of the greats in the industry. I'm going to miss standing back in the 
distillery with Willie, talking about making whiskey and listening to his life 
stories," said Michter's Master Distiller Dan McKee. Michter's Master of 
Maturation Andrea Wilson commented, "It is not often in your career you get to 
sit and listen to someone with over 50 years of experience in this industry who 
poured his heart and soul into every single detail.  Making bourbon was not a 
job to Willie, it was pure joy." Michter's Master Distiller Emerita Pam 
Heilmann said, "It was my pleasure and the opportunity of a lifetime to work 
with Willie. The years we had together enhanced my learning and grew my 
knowledge of the bourbon industry by virtue of his wisdom and tutelage." 

Willie's hobbies included fishing in Florida, riding motorcycles, and flying 
his Cherokee four-seater. He is survived by his beloved wife Patsy, his 
children, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and his dog Sophie.

Contact: Joseph J. Magliocco 
+1 502-774-2300 x580

SOURCE: Michter's Distillery