Lincoln Henderson, Kentucky Bourbon Legend, Dies at 75

The longtime master distiller for Brown-Forman and creator of the high-scoring, small-batch Angel’s Envy was instrumental in developing Bourbon and whiskey growth in the U.S.

Bourbon legend Lincoln Henderson, the Master Distiller of Angel’s Envy, passed away September 10, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was 75 years old. 

During his nearly 40-year tenure as Master Distiller at Brown-Forman Corporation, Henderson was instrumental in developing brands such as Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s “Gentleman Jack” and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel. As one of the original pioneers of the premium Bourbon and whiskey categories in the U.S. and an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, Henderson spent his lifetime perfecting his craft and creating fine spirits.

More recently, Henderson came out of retirement in 2006 to create Angel’s Envy, a small-batch artisan Bourbon finished in hand-selected port casks. (The spirit earned a 98 point score from Wine Enthusiast, and was part of Wine Enthusiast's Top 50 Spirits line-up for 2012.) A cask-strength Bourbon and Angel's Envy rye (finished in Caribbean rum casks) also followed. During a time when most Bourbon producers focused on more traditional methods, Henderson was noted for making decisions based on the specific taste profile he wanted to achieve, often experimenting with new spirits and methods, such as finishing whiskey in barrels formerly used for Sherry, rum, Tequila, brandy and Port.

Henderson began serious study of Bourbon as an undergraduate in Oklahoma, ultimately earning a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Louisville, and an M.B.A. from Webster University. 

Remembered by many as an innovator and perfectionist, Henderson helped to reinvent the category and challenged the established rules of Bourbon. Known for his peculiar sense of humor and quick wit, he enjoyed storytelling, making appearances and giving talks to Bourbon lovers. 

“I lost my Dad and best friend…but I am blessed and grateful that together we created a brand that we’re both incredibly proud of,” said Wes Henderson, Chief Operating Officer of Angel’s Envy in a statement. “We will proudly carry on his legacy and keep his memory alive.”

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