Sep. 11, 2013
Lincoln Henderson, master distiller at Brown-Forman for nearly 40 years and credited with developing Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s “Gentleman Jack” and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, died late Tuesday. He was 75. Henderson had been retired when, in 2006, he got back into the business to create Angel’s Envy, which has been given top scores by bourbon reviewers. A statement from Angel’s Envy announcing his death did not give a cause.
Henderson graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelors degree in chemistry and received an MBA from Webster University. “Beyond all this, Lincoln was a true gentleman who was great to work with – and to share a drink with,” Brown-Forman spokesman Phil Lynch said in a prepared statement. Henderson is a member of the bourbon hall of fame, administered by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Henderson’s son, Wesley, started Louisville Distilling Co. in an attempt to lure his father out of retirement and involve his own sons in the family business. “I wanted to see dad get into an expressive environment, and for us to do this on a scale where if we figure out that we could ferment sweat socks tomorrow and come up with a wonderful distillate, then by God we can do it,” Wesley Henderson said. Lincoln Henderson retired from Brown-Forman in 2004. In a 2011 interview with The Courier-Journal, he said he began serious study of bourbon as an undergrad in Oklahoma. “I’ll never forget, we were having Christmas break and I couldn’t go home, so we decided to do research on bourbon,” he said. “We drove down to Texas, because Oklahoma was dry, and we bought about five cases of bourbon. I think we spent our whole three weeks of Christmas break with Ancient Age.” Whether or not it ever really happened, the epic bender didn’t have anything to do with his eventual career at Brown-Forman, where he was master distiller for 39 years. When his father passed away at the end of his senior year at UofL, he decided to put his medical training on hold and got a job as a grain chemist at Brown-Forman eventually becoming master distiller. “My palate is not any better than yours or anyone else’s,” Henderson told The Courier-Journal in 2011. “I was interested in flavors, and anybody who gets into this business to do this sort of thing has to be interested in flavor.”