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    Remembering Stitzel-Weller With The Filson
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    When you really love bourbon, hearing a name like Stitzel-Weller evokes mythical images of Pappy Van Winkle and wheated bourbon.  Like many mythical places it is an actual historic distillery you can visit, though it has undergone some pretty major changes since the days when Pappy Van Winkle used to go hunting off the front porch of his office building.

    Last night The Filson Historical Society put together a Bourbon Salon dedicated to remembering Stitzel-Weller.  The guest speakers were Ed Foote, former Stitzel-Weller Master Distiller, Julian Van Winkle, and Sally Van Winkle Campbell.  The program was moderated by Michael Veach, Bourbon Historian and Hall of Famer.

    Throughout the evening each guest took turns telling stories about their earliest memories at the distillery.  Julian Van Winkle began by telling of the summers he worked at the distillery when he was a teenager.  He had every job from detecting leaks to working in the cooper’s shop, the most physically demanding job at the distillery according to Van Winkle.  He also worked on a construction crew building rick houses.

    Sally Van Winkle Campbell told stories of spending time at her grandparents’ house as a child.  On several occasions she and her brother would get their grandmother’s lap board and ride it down the stairs.  On one such occasion Pappy Van Winkle walked through the door as she and her brother skidded across the floor, though she says he didn’t even bat an eye.  “Everything was always so OK with him where his grandchildren were concerned,” says Campbell.

    Ed Foote was the Master Distiller at Stitzel-Weller from 1982-1992.  While this was after the time that the Van Winkle family owned it, he reports it being like a family.  “When I thought about going to Stitzel-Weller it was like I’d died and gone to heaven,” recounted Foote of his time at the distillery.  One of his fondest memories was of the vegetable gardens the employees kept between rick houses.  The grounds crew would till up a plot and each employee would get a row or two to grow their vegetables.

    The program was so popular the wait list was longer than the number of tickets sold.  Thankfully The Filson decided to do an encore presentation in the spring, so stay tuned for a second chance to catch this lineup.  If you missed it the first time, you won’t want to miss it the second.

    Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl and The Filson Historical Society

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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