Willie Pratt, former master distiller at Michter's, has passed away

Until his very end, he was actively involved in whiskey production

It is a time of farewell in the whisky scene: After Sandy Grant Gordon passed away a few days ago (we reported), Michter’s has now announced the death of his former master distiller Willie Pratt. Until the end he was still actively involved in the whiskey production as a master distiller emeritus.

Willie Pratt led a life for whiskey: born in 1942, he went from his hometown Hazard to Louisville in search of work at the age of 20. There he joined the Brown-Forman company, which not only offered him employment, but also paid for his evening classes, thus enabling him to get his degrees from the university. For four decades he worked in various positions for the whiskey producer, and got to know all about distillering, the cooperage and maturation.

When Willie Pratt retired from Brown-Forman at the age of 65, his passion for whiskey priduction persisted. In 2007 he started as a master distiller at Michter's. While it was initially a matter of overseing the production of Michter's Whiskey, which was produced in another distillery, Pratt's responsibility changed with the construction of Michter's Shively Distillery. He was actively involved in the development of the distillery.

Then it was time for him to slow down and reduce working hours. In 2016 he passed the baton as Michter’s master distiller to Pam Heilmann, who was followed by Dan McKee in 2019. But his passion did not let him go completely and until the end he assisted and coached the team at Michter's. In 2017 the Whisky Magazine inducted him into the legendary Hall of Fame.

"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," Michter's Master Distiller Dan McKee said.

"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.

Image: Michter’s / PR Newswire