Seventh generation and local master distiller Charles Medley was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame on Sept. 19.
“I’m so honored to be included in an organization that has recognized so many of my peers,” Medley told the Owensboro Times. “This is the greatest honor of my career.”
The Hall of Fame was created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in conjunction with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
According to a press release from the KDA, the Hall of Fame “recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant and transformational impact on Bourbon’s stature, growth and awareness.”
Medley was born into a family of Kentucky distillers who owned and operated the Medley Distilling Company in Owensboro.
After completing his education at Western Kentucky University, Medley apprenticed at Brown-Forman and Old Fitzgerald distilleries in Louisville before returning to Owensboro and, after his uncle’s death in 1966, becoming plant manager at Medley Distilling Company.
The title of plant manager evolved into master distiller, and Medley spent 40 years as Master Distiller until his retirement in 1996.
In 1996, Medley relaunched his father’s personal brand, Wathen’s Kentucky Bourbon, and built a new company, Charles Medley Distillery, which owns a portfolio of Medley and Wathen family brands, including his father and uncles’ brand Medley Bros., his grandfather’s Old Medley, and his great grandfather’s Medley’s Private Stock along with Wathen’s Kentucky Bourbon – Single Barrel.
Medley and his son Samuel Wathen Medley operate Charles Medley Distillery in Owensboro.
The induction ceremony was held before a crowd of 220 bourbon dignitaries during an evening reception at one of the state’s most revered sites, My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown.
Jacob Call, master distiller at O.Z. Tyler, said that it was an honor to induct Medley because he is a legend in the distillery business.
“He worked his entire life in the Bourbon industry,” Call said. “He definitely deserves this great honor.”
Medley received an engraved miniature copper still and his name will be added to the Hall of Fame display at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown.