Lincoln Henderson: The Visionary

When Woodford Reserve launched as an upscale bourbon in 1996, it was a groundbreaking display of optimism from its creator, Lincoln Henderson.

At the turn of the Millennium, few brands gave a stronger lightning bolt to American whiskey than Woodford Reserve, and master distiller Henderson was the brand’s face and flavor.

The Cincinnati Enquirer called Henderson the “master of the good stuff” and said Woodford wasn’t ready until Henderson said so.

Henderson retired from a 40-year career at Brown-Forman, where he also developed Woodford, Gentleman Jack, and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, but a great distiller never loses the whiskey-making itch.

In 2006, Henderson put his barrel-aging experiments to good use when he and his son, Wes, embarked on the first mainstay port barrel finish bourbon—Angel’s Envy, which launched in 2011. “This has been the highlight of my career,” Henderson told me at the groundbreaking of the Angel’s Envy Distillery in 2013.

A few months after the groundbreaking, Lincoln Henderson passed away at the age of 75.

Liquid Legacy: Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon 2013
A chocolate-and-fruit bomb, this was Lincoln Henderson’s final project, according to his grandson, Kyle.
Find it: Delilah’s, Chicago; Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington, D.C.; Silver Dollar, Louisville.

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