Chester “Chet” Zoeller was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1941. He was raised in the shadow of Churchill Downs and lived within a few short blocks of many of the largest distilleries of the day; the Yellowstone, Seagram’s, Hill & Hill, and Stitzel-Weller distilleries were all within smelling distance.
Mr. Zoeller attended the University of Kentucky before earning his undergraduate degree from
Western Kentucky University and his law degree from the University of Louisville. He practiced law for a number of years in Louisville before purchasing and operating a telecommunications firm in Savannah, Georgia. After he returned to Louisville, in 1997 he established the McLain & Kyne Distillery Company with his son, Trey. They produced several brands of bourbon—Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Reserve, and Jefferson’s Rye.
Interested in the history of the whiskey business in Kentucky, Mr. Zoeller began researching the subject, which led to his writing Bourbon in Kentucky: A History of Distilleries in Kentucky, originally published in 2009. He has since updated and revised the book twice. His second book, Kentucky Bourbon Barons, introduces readers to the giants in the industry during the golden years of distilling.
Mr. Zoeller travels the country giving talks on the history of bourbon and Kentucky’s distilleries.