The sad news of Willie Pratt’s passing has arrived in the last few days of 2020. Pratt, also known as Dr No, has been highly regarded for decades due to his exceptional work at both Brown Forman, the distiller of Jack Daniels, and more recently Michter’s. He gained a reputation of being a perfectionist and earned the nickname Dr No due to his reluctance to release any Bourbon, or Tennesse Whiskey, until he was satisfied it met expectations, regardless of the pressure marketing departments would exert.
Pratt devoted his entire working life to the industry, traveling to Louisville at the age of 20 to seek out employment and study at the local university in the evenings. Brown Forman recognized the potential, funding his studies and being repaid with 45 years of loyal service. Retiring at 65, Pratt was soon lured back to the industry he loves, taking on the role of master distiller at Michter’s, overseeing the developmentent of the Shively Distillery.
“To work with Willie and to have him as a friend was a tremendous gift,” said Michael’s President Joseph Magliocco. “When challenges seemed overwhelming that’s when Willie’s leadership would shine through”.
If you have a bottle of Michter’s handy, raise a glass to the master distiller and toast an industry legend this New Year’s Eve.
Willie is survived by his beloved wife Patsy, his children, grand children and great grandchildren – and his dog Sophie.