Meet the Man, himself...

Evan Williams

Those who met him learned quickly what a likable kind of guy he was. Williams was down to earth, willing to get his hands dirty, not afraid to kiss off the good life to follow a dream.

And like its namesake, Evan Williams the Bourbon has the same strong character. Allow us to introduce you to Evan Williams The Entrepreneur, The Politician, and most importantly The Distiller. Click to Learn More

At Evan Williams, we believe that we're only as good as our next batch of Bourbon. That's what drives us to produce high-quality Bourbons that consistently draw critical acclaim. To maintain our high standards, we rely on the keen senses, vast knowledge, and hands-on approach of our Master Distillers.

From the historic Bernheim Distillery to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville, Denny Potter and Jodie Filiatreau share the same commitment to producing great Kentucky Bourbon. They are dedicated to bringing you the smooth taste you’ve come to expect from every bottle of Evan Williams. Meet the Masters.

Denny Potter Denny Potter

Denny Potter Master Distiller

Denny oversees the distilling, aging and selection of our world-renowned Bourbons at the Bernheim Distillery, where he also safeguards an inventory of 1.4 million barrels. He has over 14 years’ experience in distillery operations, and holds the enviable task of ensuring that every bottle of Evan Williams Bourbon possesses consistent, high quality taste. Sit back, relax, and soak up some of his knowledge.

jodie filiatreau jodie filiatreau

Jodie Filiatreau Artisanal Distiller

Jodie began his career with Evan Williams in 1981. Over the past 36 years, he has garnered extensive experience in distillery and barrel aging operations. Jodie runs our Artisanal Distillery at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row: an official stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Stop by for a tour; Jodie would love to show you around.

jodie filiatreau jodie filiatreau

Charlie Downs Artisanal Distiller Emeritus

Charlie's Bourbon-making experience at Evan Williams goes back 39 years. During his tenure, he worked alongside legendary Master Distillers like Earl & Parker Beam. In 2013, Charlie capped his storied career as Artisanal Distiller at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. He retired in October 2017.

It's no secret that Evan Williams set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River back in 1783. Since then, the basic process of making Bourbon hasn't really changed much. Today, it is our Master Distillers, Parker and Craig Beam, that oversee the entire distillation and production process every step of the way.

1. GRAIN HANDLING AND MILLING

Corn, malted barley and rye are selected and ground according to the particular recipe, or mashbill, being used.

2. mashing

The milled grains are cooked in Kentucky limestone water, in a specified order and at specific temperatures, to create a sweet, porridge-like “mash.” The mash is then transferred to “fermenter” vats.

3. Backset or “sourmash”

A portion of the prior day’s distillate is added to both the mash cooker and the fermenter. Known as the sour mash process, it serves to maintain continuity of flavor and regulate pH.

4. fermenting

Our Master Distiller’s 7th generation family yeast strain is added to the cooked mash in a large vat, where the yeast naturally converts the sugars into alcohol through the fermentation process. Over several days, the fermenting mash bubbles violently, creating “Distiller’s Beer,” a thick, low alcohol (6-7%) liquid that is ready to be distilled into whiskey.

5. Distillation

In the 70 ft. tall column stills, the Distiller’s Beer drips slowly down a series of perforated copper plates while steam blasts up from the bottom. The alcohol vapors rise to the tops of the stills, where they are captured, condensed, and then re-distilled in the thumper. The purified, concentrated “new make” reemerges at 68-70% alcohol or 136-140 proof.

6. gauging and barreling

The newly made whiskey is stored in a holding tank, where the proof is “gauged” and brought down to barreling proof (62.5% alcohol or 125 proof) through the addition of pure, Kentucky limestone water. It is then transferred to a new, charred white oak barrel and sealed with a poplar “bung.”

7. maturation

The newly filled barrels are placed in open-rick warehouses, or rickhouses, to naturally age from 4-20 plus years. During the aging process, the whiskey acquires its distinctive amber color, smooth character, and vanilla and caramel flavors.

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