21st Century Master Distiller
Harlen Wheatly was born in 1969 in the small Northern Kentucky town of Mount Sterling in Boone County. Most of his childhood was spent in Florence, Kentucky. He played linebacker and graduated from Boone County High School and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Northern Kentucky University. He earned his Master’s Degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kentucky while working full time at a chemical company. It during this time that he learned his formal knowledge in the science of distillation.
Wheatley joined the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1995 as a supervisor on the distillery floor. In August of 1999 the Sazerac family purchased the distillery and changed its name to the Buffalo Trace Distillery and introduced its new flagship brand. Wheatley was instrumental in the release of “Buffalo Trace Bourbon” and made a large contribution into the make up of the brand. It was an immediate success with consumers and within months Harlen was promoted to the position of Plant Manager in May of 2000.
Harlen Wheatley was promoted in 2005 to become only the sixth Master Distiller since the Civil War that the distillery has ever had. Wheatley in his tenure at Buffalo Trace has now worked in every stage of the the distilleries process from grain inspection, to raw material supervision, to barrel, bottling and aging. He not only supervises the entire distilling process at Buffalo Trace but helps oversee and advise at a number of other Sazerac distilling operations through out North America. Not only does he work hands on at the distillery but he is also the face of the brands and acts as an Ambassador for the company at a number of events.
Buffalo Trace honored Harlen by naming a brand after him, in Wheatley Vodka. Made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky by Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley himself. Crafted in small-batches using a one of a kind micro-still, Harlen’s unique wheat recipe is distilled a total of 10 times, triple-filtered and bottled at 82 proof, creating a delicate and balanced profile. Wheatley Vodka has won many awards.