157 – A Willett Family Tradition with Even and Britt Kulsveen at the Kentucky Derby Museum Legends Series

It’s a tradition that has remained in the hands of the family for generations. Willett Distillery is one of the most recognized brands for bourbon enthusiasts and has accumulated a cult status. Even Kulsveen has seen the struggles and highs of his industry but had foresight to buy aged whiskey stocks when they were plentiful which put the spotlight on this brands. With Britt Kulsveen at the helm as their new President, this family is making bigger waves than before. Listen to their story as Fred Minnick moderates this Kentucky Derby Museum Legend Series.

Show Notes:

  • This event is being moderated by Fred Minnick.
  • This years theme is all about family
  • Even, where did you grow up?
  • Did you do a lot of ice fishing growing up? Did you ever fall through the ice?
  • Talk about your time in the Merchant Marines
  • What were your events in college sports?
  • So we found out before we started that you’re not an American citizen
  • Britt, can you give us a story about your father’s kindness?
  • Even, was there a moment where you saw Britt in action and said she’s got skills?
  • Britt, is there a story behind you always wearing boots?
  • Even, did you train Drew?
  • What are you looking for in the barrels when you are creating your small batch composition? What is something that doesn’t taste right?
  • What was something you learned from Thompson Willett?
  • Did he ever show you his secret spots in the warehouses?
  • Talk about the Frosted Yeast Rolls. This is the High Corn Mashbill. Barrel entry at
  • Even, How did you meet your wife?
  • All the big brands were bailing out on bourbon, what was that time like?
  • When did you come out with your small batch series?
  • Did you ever travel to Russia in the 90s? Did you ever have trust issues with distributors there?
  • Britt, what was it like as a kid watching your dad living around whiskey?
  • Let’s drink the wheated bourbon now. Entry Proof at 115
  • When Drew brings you something, do you ever turn it away and tell him its bad?
  • You were also bottling stuff for a lot of other people back in the day. Can you talk about that?
  • You had to acquire bourbon from other distilleries, what sort of other whiskey were you looking for?
  • Was there is an age limit of something you wouldn’t buy?
  • Would your early batches include barrels from lots of different distilleries?
  • What’s your sweet spot for an aged bourbon?
  • Lets taste the 6 year old Rye now, 51% Rye, 34% Corn, 15% barley, Barrel entry proof is 125, but now goes in at 110.
  • Dipping back into the great barrels coming out during the early 2000s, how does this new stuff rank?
  • We talked about the 80s and 90s, but Willett becomes really popular in the late 2000s. There are a lot of fans. Have you ever been a part of the fandom?
  • How many times have you been asked to get bought out?
  • Bill Thomas from Jack Rose has been a big supporter of Willett.
  • Talk about the Willett 80th anniversary. It’s the original Willett mashbill, 72% Corn, 13% Rye, 15% Barley and this one is bottled in bond
  • There aren’t many bad things to be said about your whiskey. Do you think it’s harder to stay on top?
  • Are there any other mashbills or barrel finishes you are working on?

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