Beverage News / Wine & Spirits

Heaven Hill Distilleries opens $10.5 million artisanal distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Distillery tour highlights legacy of Evan Williams

Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., Louisville, Ky., opened a new $10.5 million artisanal distillery to bring tourism and a unique brand experience for Evan Williams drinkers to the area. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience opened to the public on Nov. 15. The new artisanal distillery and tourism experience is officially the eighth stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour and the first stop in Louisville.

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience celebrates the legacy of Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first commercial distiller and the namesake of Heaven Hill’s flagship bourbon brand. It offers guests guided, immersive tours that virtually take them back in time to see Evan Williams’ original distillery, high-definition video recreations of the Louisville wharf and Main Street in the late 18th century, and recreations of Whiskey Row building facades along Main Street from the 1890s through the present. A dioramic video wall display allows guests to see how Heaven Hill’s modern Bernheim Distillery operates and how it is different from those in Evan Williams’ era.

The highlight of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is the fully functioning, artisanal pot still distillery, which is viewable to visitors and capable of producing a range of American whiskey types and styles, the company says.

Displays on warehouses and aging also are included, and guests of legal drinking age have the opportunity to enjoy a tutored tasting of premium bourbons in two different themed tasting rooms. One of these tasting rooms is modeled after the interior of the Philip Hollenbach Co. whiskey distributor that occupied the building prior to Heaven Hill’s acquisition more than 70 years ago. In addition, a large retail area offers a range of Evan Williams branded merchandise, specialty food products, and a number of Heaven Hill’s premium bourbons and American whiskeys for sale to the public. On the lower level, a speakeasy- themed space, accessible through a faux safe door in the wall, will be available for special paid tours as well as public rental for special functions.

The signature feature of the building is a five-story-high Evan Williams bottle. The pouring bottle is reproduced as window graphics in the top three floors but is actually 3-D in the two lower floors as the neck of the bottle and a nearly 1,500-gallon lowball glass in the lobby form a flowing bourbon fountain.

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tours last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and include a historical tour, viewing of the artisanal still, and a guided tasting of two premium bourbons, including Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage and Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch. The admission fee for adults 21 and older is $12, but reduced rates for groups, active military and accompanied minors are available.

This new tourist attraction is expected to attract more than 110,000 visitors in its first year, and it has created 17 full-time jobs, the company says.

“Heaven Hill Distilleries is proud to be bringing the bourbon industry back to Louisville’s Whiskey Row and to be bringing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to Louisville with the opening of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience,” said Heaven Hill President Max L. Shapira in a statement. “We are confident that our historically significant location, the quality of the visitor experience, and the ascendance of Evan Williams as the nation’s and world’s second-largest selling bourbon brand will make this facility a significant new addition to downtown Louisville’s attractions.”

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