Garrard County Distilling Co - Master Distiller Lisa Wicker

Garrard County Distilling Co. in Lancaster, Garrard County, Kentucky has announced the hiring of Lisa Wicker as the whiskey makers first Master Distiller. People in the spirits industry will know Wicker as she recently served as President and Master Distiller for nearly six years at Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn, New York and as consulting distiller at the historic George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Garrard (pronounced /ˈɡærɪd/ GAIR-id; ) County Distilling Co. is a $250 million startup distillery that just began distilling last month. In her new role as Master Distiller Wicker will oversee all distilling operations for Garrard’s distilled spirits and blending for their own brands as well as bulk sprits production for their contract distilling partners. The massive new distillery features an identical pair of 45-feet tall by 36-inch Vendome Copper and Brass Works column stills and has the capacity to distill 8.5 million proof gallons or about 150,000 barrels of bourbon and rye whiskey per year.

Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.

We spoke with Wicker about the transition from a smaller New York state based distiller to joining the largest new independent distillery in the country. Wicker indicated that though the equipment and volumes are different, the fundamentals are the same. You start out with good grains, yeast, limestone rich water, a great team of distillers, using good distillation techniques, good barrels and you will produce great whiskey. And she’s got the resume to prove it with accolades as Whisky Magazine’s Best Small Batch Bourbon 2022, Best in Class at the 2019 Whiskies of the World Awards, and a Double Gold Medal at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. She was also nominated for the Icons of Whiskey Master Distiller/Blender of the Year.

Under Wicker, Widow Jane was the largest heirloom corn crop whiskey maker in the U.S. for several years. Many of those heirloom crop whiskies were distilled at Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky as well as other Kentucky and Indiana distilleries using her own custom recipes. Think of it like a visiting chef working in someone else’s kitchen, a very big kitchen.

Wicker’s other experience in the spirits industry includes lead distilling roles at Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company (Town Branch), Samson & Surrey, Limestone Branch Distillery, and Huber’s Starlight Distillery.

“I am so grateful to the team at Staghorn (Garrard County’s parent company in Atlanta, Georgia) for this amazing opportunity to lead the whiskey making team at this beautiful new facility,” said Wicker.

“Though this is one of the largest distilleries in Kentucky, my focus will remain on creating whiskeys using the hands-on, traditional craft disciplines I have honed over the past several decades.”

Wicker added that the distilling team at Garrard County is made up of people that have more than a couple of centuries of experience from other Kentucky and Indiana distilleries.

“When we were looking for a head distiller at Garrard County Distilling Co., we wanted someone with deep experience in time-honored distilling methods but also someone with an eye for what’s next. This made Lisa our obvious first choice,” said Staghorn and Garrard County Distilling Co. Founder Ray Franklin.

Until the whiskey currently in production matures, Wicker will focus her attention on Staghorn’s All Nations brand, selecting and blending whiskey from the company’s more than 17,000 sourced-barrel inventory aging on the property. Garrard County Distilling Co. plans to announce several new brands in 2024.

“High-rye and wheated bourbons are going to be the calling card for Garrard County Distilling Co., but I am also excited to explore rye whiskey, American single malt and some other emerging categories,” continued Wicker. “Key for me will be to have a premium whiskey for everyone, so expect a broad portfolio across multiple price points, from your daily sipper to the bottle you pull out for special occasions.”

Wicker’s initial top goals include a commitment to making the very best whiskey, to build a remarkable team and great culture all within a framework of tradition while at the same time pushing the envelope of distilling and blending.

A Future Stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Located 30 minutes south of Lexington and just over an hour from Bardstown, the 210-acre Garrard County Distilling Co. site includes the 50,000+ square foot distillery, as well as two 20,000 square foot rickhouses, with plans for a total of 24 aging warehouses by 2030, each holding nearly 25,000 barrels. A visitor center with tasting room and restaurant is scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Staghorn is a premium spirits company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded by industry veteran Ray Franklin in 2018, Staghorn owns Garrard County Distilling Co., the largest all-new independent distillery in Kentucky, producing premium whiskeys and spirits. The company’s name is born from the engaging Staghorn Sumac, a native shrub with an unexpected appearance, particularly at full bloom, that echoes the curiosity inherent to making great spirits.

Related Stories
Startup Garrard County Distilling Co. Opens $250 Million Distillery – Will Produce 150k Barrels of Bourbon a Year – Jan 2024
‘All Nations Distillery’ Joins the Kentucky Distillers’ Association as its Newest Craft Member – Dec 2022

Learn more about Garrard County Distilling Co.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
View all U.S. Distilleries.

How Do You Pronounce Garrard County?

Locals share the proper was to pronounce Garrard County.

Please help to support Distillery Trail. Sign up for our Newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Recommended Posts