Johnny Drum Private Stock Bourbon Whiskey – August 2022
Produced in small batches at the Willet Distillery in Kentucky, this is a great example of a sour mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon without the big name.
Johnny Drum Bourbon was launched by Willett in 1960 exclusively for a wholesaler in California, but fortunately has become widely distributed since.
`Johnny Drum served as a drummer boy in the year 1861 during the American Civil War, having been too young to fight. At the end of the war Johnny returned home to his native Kentucky. He grew corn and wanted to turn his excess crop into something profitable… bourbon whiskey soon followed.
“The nose is sour apple, vanilla, and oak. The palate is a snowball rolling over fruits, vanilla, and spices, mixing them all together into a well balanced and complex Whiskey”
(Timeline as published at https://www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com/the-willett-history/):-
In 1936 Thompson Willett founded Willett Distillery. Today, the tradition continues.
In 1674 Edward Willett went to London and apprenticed to Daniel Mason to learn the pewter trade. When he was twenty-three, Edward received his mark and became a pewterer. He was allowed to strike his touch, pictured here, in the Pewterer’s Hall of London in 1684.
For a century, these Willetts would call Prince George’s County, Maryland home, which is very near Washington, D.C.
William Willett, Jr., grandson of Edward Willett, moved to Nelson County, Kentucky. This is the same year that Kentucky became a state.
John David Willett is born on December 26, 1841 in Nelson County, Kentucky. He was one-third owner and Master Distiller at Moore, Willett & Frenke Distillery. During his lifetime, John David was also the Master Distiller at four other distilleries in Kentucky.
Aloysius Lambert Willett, who went by Lambert, was born September 23, 1883 in Bardstown, Kentucky. Lambert was in the Kentucky Bourbon business from the age of 15, and served several distilleries across the Commonwealth in various capacities. This photo was taken on Lambert’s wedding day.
Aloysius Lambert Thompson Willett, who went by Thompson, was born on January 27, 1909 in Bardstown, Kentucky. Thompson Willett was founder and President of Willett Distillery in Bardstown. This photo was taken on Thompson’s wedding day.
In the spring of 1936, the family breaks ground on the distillery. Willett Distillery was erected on the family’s farm, three short years after the repeal of prohibition.
March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day – The Willetts put their first barrel into storage in Warehouse A. The photo is Thompson Willett on the distillery grounds.
In the 1940’s Willett Distillery introduced Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The photo is Thompson Willett inspecting a bottle of Old Bardstown.
Thompson Willett developed Johnny Drum Bourbon, exclusively for a wholesaler in California.
January 8th – Willett Distillery fills its 100,000th barrel. Pictured at far right is Lambert Willett, Thompson’s father.
In the same year Congress named Bourbon America’s Native Spirit, Thompson Willett and the Willett Distillery received a gold medal for Old Bardstown. Pictured here on September 11th, is Thompson Willett (on right) receiving the medal from Kentucky Governor Edward Thompson ‘Ned’ Breathitt, Jr. at the Kentucky State Fair.
Even and Martha Kulsveen assume the leadership role.
Small Batch Boutique Bourbon Collection – Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, Kentucky Vintage & Pure Kentucky – is released.
Even & Martha Kulsveen’s son, Drew Kulsveen, joins the family business.
Even & Martha Kulsveen’s daughter, Britt Kulsveen Chavanne, and her husband, Hunter Chavanne, join the family business.
Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon is introduced.
Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye is introduced.
Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon debuts in the signature pot still shaped bottle fashioned using the original still blueprints.
Willett opens a visitor center to welcome guest touring the historic property.
Warehouse A is renovated.
Janelle Vincent Kulsveen, Drew’s wife, joins the family Business.
After several years of renovations, on January 21st, the family starts up the distillery.
A few days later, the copper pot still was put to use for the first time.
January 27th – The family puts the first barrels of their new-make Bourbon Whiskey into Warehouse A for storage. This would have been Thompson’s 103rd birthday.
October 31st – The first release of Willett Exploratory Cask Finished Whiskey is unveiled.
Willett Family Estate Bottled Rye Whiskey, Aged Two Years, is released. This is the first Whiskey to be released that came off the Willett copper pot still.
March 17 – Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon Whiskey, Aged Four Years, is released. This is the first Bourbon to be released that came off the Willett copper pot still.The “new” Old Bardstown 90 proof as well as the “new” Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond Bourbon is released. Both Bourbon labels are reproductions of Old Bardstown labels that were in the family’s portfolio when Thompson Willett was President.
On March 17, 2017, St. Patrick’s Day, the family celebrated it’s 80 Year Anniversary of when Thompson Willett and his family put their first barrels into storage.
If you are a Whisky Pioneer subscriber, we hope you enjoyed this whisky as much as we did. If you’re not yet a subscriber, and you’d like to explore exceptional whisky with us, join today to receive a 5/6cl bottle every month. Find out about our better bottles and how it works here.