A Passing of the Whiskey Thief – Michter’s Pam Heilmann Handing Over Master Distiller Duties to Dan McKee
Michter’s is a distillery on the move. They started distilling at the Michter’s Distillery (M2) in Shively, Kentucky in 2015, they purchased a historic property on Louisville’s Whiskey Row in 2011 and after many years of extensive renovation opened the doors to Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery (M1) in February 2019. And in the middle there somewhere they purchased 145 acres of land in Springfield, Kentucky to build barrel warehouses and to grow a variety of distillers corn. Needless to say, they’ve been busy over the years and they’ve expanded their whiskey production from an initial 500,000 proof gallons to 1,000,000 proof gallons with room to expand another 50%.
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One constant at Michter’s during all this growth has been Master Distiller Pam Heilmann. When she was handed the master distiller role in 2016 she became the first Kentucky Distillers’ Association member distillery to have a female Master Distiller since prior to Prohibition. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Heilmann you know she’s the real deal.
Heilmann came to Michter’s from Jim Beam Distillery. When she left Beam for Michter’s she was the distillery manager at the world’s largest bourbon distillery at the time, the Booker Noe Distillery in Boston, Kentucky. One of the first hires she made at Michter’s was her former Beam co-worker Dan McKee. The two have worked together for more than a decade and now Heilmann will be passing her whiskey thief and Master Distiller role over to McKee effective May 1, 2019. As a part of the succession plan Heilmann will become Master Distiller Emerita and Distillery Manager Matt Bell will become Distiller. And to put an exclamation point on Heilman’s tenure at Michter’s when the 2019 bottling of Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon goes on sale this May, it will mark the final Michter’s release during her tenure as Master Distiller.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Michter’s, and I’m very proud of what we have done here,” said Master Distiller Emerita Pam Heilmann. “One of the favorite parts of my job has been coaching and training younger people as they come up in the industry. Dan is a brilliant distiller, and I am confident that with him and Matt Bell at the helm, our production is in great hands.”
“After we hired Pam, she brought over Dan with her from her prior company. It quickly became apparent that he was extraordinarily talented and would someday be an outstanding Master Distiller,” said Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco. “Pam’s contributions to Michter’s have been incredible. She is a truly great distiller, and a truly great person.”
“I am so grateful to Pam,” said Master Distiller Dan McKee. “To work with her and learn from her has been an honor and a privilege. We will do everything we can to continue Pam’s work and pursue Michter’s goal of producing the greatest American whiskey.”
Michter’s Distillery bourbon and rye production will be in good hands.
You can learn more about the newest jewel in the Michter’s crown here – 8 Years In – Michter’s Celebrates Grand Opening of Historic Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery on Whiskey Row [Video].
Watch the video below to hear Pam Heilmann’s admiration for Dan McKee on the day of the grand opening of the downtown urban bourbon distillery.