It’s hard to imagine that a budding entrepreneur from Wales would make the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to start a thriving bourbon distillery on the banks of the Ohio River. However, this is exactly what Evan Williams accomplished in the late 18th-century when he headed across the pond to start what has since become the second largest bourbon brand in the world. Ready to learn more about the history, heritage, and of course, the unique taste of this bourbon? Head to the heart of Louisville or continue reading to learn all about the amazing Evan Williams tour of the downtown distillery.
Whether you are an avid bourbon connoisseur or simply want to enjoy a distillery tour, we can highly recommend the experience on the Evan Williams tour. During our recent weekend in Louisville, we had the opportunity to sample a variety of distilleries around the city. It’s fair to say that Evan Williams offered the most detailed and informative experience, so let’s take a look at why this should be on your radar when you next visit Kentucky.
Evan Williams Tour Information
Located along downtown Louisville’s historic “Whiskey Row,” the Evan Williams Distillery is recognized as one of the best places to start your Kentucky Bourbon Trail given the history that dates back to 1783. Some will argue that you are better starting out at the gorgeous Jim Beam American Stillhouse in nearby Clermont, but regardless of your decision, taking an Evan Williams tour is certainly something you should consider.
The museum tour that you can experience today is just one block away from Evan Williams’ original distillery.
Monday to Thursday – 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Friday to Saturday – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday – 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Please note that the last tour each day is scheduled to start one hour before closing time.
Adults (21+) – $12
Children (11-20) – $9
Under 10 – FREE
528 West Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 584-2114
Website: Evan Williams
History of Evan Williams
As we started our Evan Williams tour, we quickly realized that we were in for a real treat. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and always willing to field any questions we had about the experience.
The tour started with a quick video depicting the history of Evan Williams dating back to 1783 when he first moved to the States with a desire to set up the first distillery on the banks of the Ohio River.
In 1797, he was elected Louisville’s first wharf master despite certain individuals thinking that this was a bad move given that Williams was always focused on distilling whiskey.
Louisville was a major port for river traffic moving along the Ohio River given that this was a spot (known as the Falls of the Ohio River) where boats would have to be unloaded and moved across the land before heading back into the Ohio and onwards to New Orleans.
The second part of the tour was a really cool experience as we were taken into a room with a video playing all around us that made us feel like we were taken back to the 18th-century. We saw a depiction of Williams performing his wharf-master duties before focusing his attention on mastering the distilling process.
Evan Williams is the fastest-growing high-volume bourbon (Larry Kass)
Distilling Process at Evan Williams
Despite the history of Evan Williams dating back over 200 years, one thing has stayed pretty consistent throughout the centuries – the distilling process! Today, Parker and Craig Beam are the master distillers for this brand and oversee the continued development of Evan Williams bourbon whiskey.
The ‘standard’ distilling process is much the same for all bourbon whiskeys but there are always some hidden secrets within each brand that helps make them unique and create such a diverse portfolio of bourbon flavors.
We had the opportunity to watch a small distillery in action though because this is located in downtown Louisville, we weren’t able to appreciate the smell of authentic bourbon throughout the process given the regulations that are in place preventing this.
Here are the seven phases of distilling bourbon whiskey:
- Grain Handling and Milling
- Backseat (Sourmash)
- Gauging and Barreling
Rather than going into detail about the various phases, I will let you experience that during your Evan Williams tour when you next visit Louisville. However, the fermentation phase is probably the most important because the master distiller’s 7th generation family yeast strain is added to the mash to help naturally convert the sugars into alcohol.
After 4-20 years of natural aging, you can enjoy the wonderful taste of Evan Williams’ finest bourbon! Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait this long during our tour as we headed through a scene of historic downtown Louisville and visited The Phil Hollenbach Co. bar to enjoy a sampling of three unique flavors.
As we headed inside the bar which has been transformed into a tasting room, our guide gave us a brief overview of the various samples we would experience.
What we didn’t realize is that the “speakeasy” tables converted into a collection of bourbon samples waiting for us to enjoy.
Three different Evan Williams bourbon flavors combined with a bourbon flavored truffle to accompany our final tasting was the perfect way to end our experience at this distillery.
After spending the whole weekend sampling different bourbons from the various distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I think Heather and I both will agree that the bourbon offered by Evan Williams was by far our favorite in terms of overall taste.
The Evan Williams Single Barrel rye whiskey is perhaps my favorite of all the three flavors but depending on personal preference, I am convinced that one of these distinctive samples will intrigue you to try more.
Before heading to Louisville, I read an article titled “Disney World for Adults: Touring the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience” and just as the title goes, this is definitely a spot worth experiencing for those that love sampling the best bourbon whiskeys around the world.
Evan Williams bourbon has quickly jumped to the very top in terms of our favorite bourbons and taking the tour around the museum is definitely a worthwhile experience for everyone interested in learning more about the history of this brand.
Have you enjoyed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and in particular, the Evan Williams tour? What is your favorite bourbon whiskey?
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Go To Louisville for hosting us on this trip and we were provided complimentary tour tickets for the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in exchange for consideration of a blog post review. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.