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40 UOFLMAGAZINE.COM UOFLMAGAZINE.COM ndrea Wilson is the Michter's master of maturation, a relatively newer title for anyone — woman or man — in the Kentucky bourbon distilling industry. Wil- son works hand-in-hand with the distillery's master distiller (also a woman, Pamela Heil- mann) to ensure the aging process of the bar- rels is doing its part to end up with the exact bourbon they have in mind. "Having two masters is a recognition of the fact that there are two very distinct phases of making Kentucky bourbon," she said. "I look after all of the cask — every- thing from procurement of cask, deciding the toasting, the charring, the warehouse environment, designs of warehouses, equip- ment, monitoring of liquid temperatures, as well as supporting our master distiller with defining new innovations and doing trials and supporting all the needs that she has to deliver the highest quality products," Wilson said. Wilson calls it "wood science." "The vessel is so much more than just a container," she said. "It is the catalyst for many chemical and physical changes that ultimately will determine the final color, fla- vor and aroma of the product." Wilson, a Louisville native, was exposed to distilling at an early age. Her grandfather, who grew up near the Maker's Mark distill- ery in Loretto and made his own wine and beer, passed along stories from the days of Kentucky moonshiners. "My grandfather would sit in his lawn chair and he would tell us these stories. For me, it was this very enchanting thing. Over the course of my life, I wanted to be in the spirits industry," she said. The problem was she didn't know how to get there. "There was no distilling school, so that was the most challenging thing for me, that I couldn't find my way," she said. She decided "the best thing to do was to go into chemical engineering because that included the distillation process and how you develop products through chemistry." Wilson started her college career at Jeffer- son Community and Technical College, then transferred to Speed. After her graduation in 1996, however, the bourbon industry was stagnant and jobs were scarce. Wanting to stay in Kentucky, Wilson ANDREA WILSON, 96GS, 97GS Master of maturation and executive vice president-general manager, Michter's "I look back now and appreciate the effort that was put in by the faculty to ensure that I was leaving that school with the basic fundamental knowledge that would benefit me throughout my career, and I still use it today." – Andrea Wilson The Char connoisseur

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