Economic Development Newsroom

Heaven Hill Announces New Bourbon Experience

Thursday April 26, 2012

Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., along with Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, announced today in Louisville the September 2013 opening of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience™. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be a multi-million dollar artisanal distillery, immersive tourism experience and retail location which will celebrate the legacy of Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first distiller and namesake of Heaven Hill’s flagship Bourbon brand. Heaven Hill Distilleries—the largest family owned and operated distilled spirits company in the country, and producers of Evan Williams, the second largest selling Bourbon in the United States and the world—will be renovating their historic building at 528 West Main Street, in the heart of what was once called “Whiskey Row” in Louisville. Evan Williams, who also served as an early Trustee of the City of Louisville, served as wharfmaster, and built the first county clerk’s office and city jail, set up his early distillery in 1783 near what is now 6th and Main Streets in downtown Louisville—almost directly across Main Street from where the new attraction will be.

The highlight of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be a fully functioning, artisanal pot still distillery, viewable to visitors and capable of producing a range of American Whiskey types and styles. The gleaming copper pot stills are a modern version of the same type of equipment Evan Williams himself set up in his distillery along the Ohio River over 200 years ago.

The signature feature of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be the façade of the building, which will feature a five story high Evan Williams Bourbon bottle. The pouring bottle will be reproduced as window graphics in the top three floors, but becomes three dimensional in the two lower floors as the neck of the bottle and a large glass in the lobby form a flowing “Bourbon fountain”.

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will offer guests guided, immersive tours where they are brought back in time to see Evan Williams’ original distillery, Louisville wharf scenes and high definition video renderings of turn-of-the-century Whiskey Row. 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, and then visitors will get to see a combination of the two—a state-of-the-art modern distillery using the same types of pot stills used in early Bourbon-making days.

Displays on warehouses and aging will also be included, and guests of legal drinking age will have the opportunity to enjoy a tutored tasting of premium Bourbons in two different themed tasting rooms. One of these tasting rooms will be modeled after the interior of the Philip Hollenbach Co. Whiskey Distributor that occupied the building prior to Heaven Hill’s acquisition over 70 years ago. In addition, a large retail area will offer 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. Finally, a “speakeasy” themed event space in the lower level will be available for corporate use, as well as public rental for special functions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Heaven Hill’s amazing addition to this historic section of Louisville,” said Lt. Gov. Abramson. “Downtown is growing into a popular destination for tourists and families, making for another bright spot in Kentucky’s rich tradition and history.”

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is expected to attract in excess of 100,000 visitors annually, and will generate a significant amount of state and local tax revenue, as well as creating 14 new full time and 9 part time jobs at the attraction. Heaven Hill was approved today by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for economic incentives for the project.

“This is a great project, not only because of Heaven Hill’s significant investment and the jobs it will create, but for the history that is being reclaimed as the bourbon industry returns to Main Street in downtown Louisville,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

Heaven Hill has operated its Bourbon Heritage Center® in Bardstown as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® attraction since 2004. Drawing over 70,000 visitors annually, it is the most visited attraction in Nelson County and a past winner of Whisky Magazine’s “Visitor Attraction of the Year” award at the magazine’s annual “Icons of Whisky” Awards. Heaven Hill also sponsors the Evan Williams Bourbon Bar on the lower level of the KFC Yum! Center, another high visibility venue in Louisville for one of the nation’s fastest growing high volume Bourbon brands, according to A.C Nielsen.

“We at Heaven Hill Distilleries are so pleased to be able to announce this exciting new initiative for Louisville, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and for our Evan Williams Bourbon brand,” stated Heaven Hill Executive Vice President Harry J. Shapira. “It brings together a lot of important economic development, tourism and historical forces—an important new manufacturing and distillation facility, a major Louisville and Kentucky-themed attraction, and the history of Whiskey Row and Evan Williams as an important Louisville figure and early distiller. 122 years ago, when this building was first constructed, this area of Main Street was an important center of commerce for the Bourbon industry, and now Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first commercial distiller, is coming back home to his original locale. We are looking forward to the same kind of success and accolades with the new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience that we have been fortunate enough to receive for our Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown.”

“This is an exciting time for the Commonwealth and Heaven Hill,” said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in a prepared statement. “Heaven Hill’s growing presence only adds to the appeal of downtown Louisville and means new jobs for Kentucky families and a boost to our economy. The Bourbon industry is one of Kentucky’s signature industries and plays a vital role in Kentucky’s economic success, representing thousands of jobs and producing millions of dollars in incomes.”

Founded in 1934, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. ( is the nation's largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world's second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill's diversified portfolio of brands includes Evan Williams Bourbon; Burnett's Vodkas and Gin; HPNOTIQ and HPNOTIQ Harmonie Liqueurs; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; The Christian Brothers Brandies; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Lunazul Tequila and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky.

Heaven Hill reminds you to “Think Wisely. Drink Wisely.”


Larry Kass
Director of Corporate Communications
Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.
(502) 413-0220