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Masters of BourbonThursday, Oct. 6 - Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022

The Masters of Bourbon series returns to Big Cedar Lodge with Angel's Envy on Thursday, October 6 at 6 p.m. Enjoy neat tastings of Port Wine Finish, Rye, and The Limited Cask Strength Release presented by Angel's Envy CEO, Wes Henderson. Following tasting, our award-winning Big Cedar Lodge culinary team will serve a meticulously prepared dinner. Each course will be perfectly paired with a cocktail selection. Experience the celebration of tradition and expertise at the Master's of Bourbon Angel's Envy Dinner!

The Details

The Event

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Please check our event calendar for upcoming things to do at Big Cedar Lodge.

Meet The Hosts

Wes Henderson holding up a glass of bourbon sitting in a bar-like setting.

Wes Henderson

Co-Founder, Angel’s Envy Bourbon

As Co-Founder, Wes Henderson's vision to create a one-of-a-kind spirit introduced the world to Angel’s Envy. In this role, Wes built Angel’s Envy’s into a global brand, creating some of the finest, award-winning whiskeys, and is recognized as a pioneer of the craft whiskey movement. In 2020 Wes was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, joining his father Lincoln as one of the few Father/Son inductees in the history of the industry.

Before co-founding Angel’s Envy, Wes was a self-described “serial entrepreneur” for 30 plus years. Spirits industry experience was gained at Brown-Forman, as the CEO (retired) for Master Distiller’s Select, the President and CEO (retired) of Conecuh Ridge Distillery, the producer of Clyde May’s Whiskey, and a Founding Partner of Papa's Pilar Rum. He is also a creator of a number of other beverage alcohol and consumer products.

Wes is a state certified firefighter, where he is trained as a member of the Regional Hazardous Materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction Task Force. He is also a Deputy Oldham County Coroner working as Death Investigator, Sworn Law Enforcement Officer, and member of the Kentucky State Mass Casualty and Disaster Response Team. Furthering a passion for flight, Wes has also served as a Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol as a pilot, specializing in search and rescue operations, and he studied Aviation at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Bruce Russell

Bruce Russel

Brand Educator & Private Barrel Lead, Wild Turkey Distilling

Bruce Russell is astutely aware of the Bourbon legacy he was born into. The son and grandson of legendary Bourbon distillers Eddie and Jimmy Russell, Bruce displays the same trademark Russell good humor and humility when speaking of his famous family. Bourbon is in Bruce’s blood, as he becomes the fourth generation of Russell to forge a career in the American Whiskey arena – at a time in spirits history when American Whiskey is becoming a global phenomenon. 

Growing up in the shadow of the distillery and his larger-than-life lineage, it was practically inevitable that Bruce would join the family business. Following graduation from the University of Kentucky in 2014, Bruce worked as an apprentice, learning from the world’s only active father-son Master Distillers. The youngest Russell got a taste of what Eddie and Jimmy already knew... there are worse ways to make a living than being paid to talk Bourbon - and spreading the gospel of Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve one glass at a time.

Having recently relocated back to Kentucky, Bruce now serves as the Brand Educator and Private Barrel Lead for Wild Turkey while also apprenticing in the same fashion as his father and grandfather before him – learning the bourbon trade from the ground up. When not at the distillery plying his trade, Bruce can be found frequenting his favorite bars and restaurants around Lexington and Louisville.

Bernie Lubbers

Bernie Lubbers

Whiskey Ambassador, Heaven Hill Distillery

Known as “The Whiskey Professor”, Bernie Lubbers is the Whiskey Ambassador for the family-owned and operated Heaven Hill Distillery located in Bardstown, KY.

Bernie travels the country and the world tasting Heaven Hill whiskeys with all those that want to learn more about how their whiskeys are produced, the history and heritage of Heaven Hill, and the American Whiskey category itself.

Bernie hosts the popular website;, and wrote a book on the subject which is in its Third Edition from Blue River Press; “Bourbon Whiskey – Our Native Spirit”. Bernie was recognized by prominent writer/author Fred Minnick as “The person that single-handedly brought Bottled In Bond whiskey back to the forefront.”

Kyle Merklein

Kyle Merklein

Master Distiller, Holladay Distillery

Kyle Merklein is Kansas-born and raised and earned his biological and agricultural engineering degrees from Kansas State, with a Master’s research focus on the optimization of various fermentation systems. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in industrial engineering as well. Merklein is passionate about bourbon - both making it and drinking it - and notes that he probably thinks about time more than most, knowing that what he does today is not what is most convenient now but rather what will be best for six or ten years in the future. “If you produce a high-quality distillate using time-tested traditions, place the distillate in a well-made barrel, and then store the barrel in a rickhouse for several years - good things will happen. That line of thinking is how I try to approach all areas of life beyond just bourbon.”

As a Master Distiller, Kyle brings his passion for the bourbon industry to production, and the evidence is clear in the taste of Holladay Bourbon. When asked what he enjoys most about his career, Kyle shared that he has always been drawn to technical challenges, so he thoroughly enjoys working through the complexities involved with making bourbon and other spirits.

Between troubleshooting a processing issue to analyzing flavor compounds on a GC/MS Chromatogram, there is always a new challenge to explore.