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Edwin Foote


Edwin Foote

He has never had a Bourbon brand named after him; and until a recent Kentucky Derby Museum event, Foote only signed one bottle in his whole distilling career - that was for Julian Van Winkle

Foote was the master distiller for the Old Fitzgerald Distillery, aka Stitzel-Weller, from 1982 to 1992, and the distiller at Bernheim facility until 1997. The distillate he perfected in his ten year Fitzgerald stretch is now regarded as some of the greatest Bourbon ever made. Some of his juice was used for Pappy Van Winkle

"I would say that Ed Foote did the best job with what he had to work with there at Stitzel-Weller, meaning the water supply was different, as was the grain milling method, yeast Y distillation proofs and entry proofs were different than what was made there before 1972 (the year the Van Winkles sold the distillery)," says Julian Van Winkle, president of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. "He made our label famous as most of our popularity came while we were bottling whiskey he made. It was arguably the best on the planet according to some. I sure enjoyed it." Inducted into the Kentucky Distiller’s Association’s Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2008, Foote’s distilling career almost didn’t happen

His professional life began as a teacher, but he needed more money to support his growing family. So, in 1961, Foote answered a classified advertisement for a Seagram’s management training position. He won the job and was eventually promoted to beer chemist at the Henry McKenna Distillery

Before long, Foote received an analytical position, overseeing the fermentation samples for Seagram’s five Kentucky distillers. In this job, Foote really learned how yeast impacted whiskey. "Human senses can be so acute. Seagram’s had a whole library of yeast. I could tell what were the samples based on the distiller’s yeast profile," Foote says

When he took the job at the Old Fitzgerald Distillery, Foote remembers that moment well: "It’s like I went to heaven.

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