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

Our Master Distillers have dedicated their lives to practicing the family craft of distilling, aging and selecting some of the world's most critically-acclaimed Bourbons.

We are proud to be a part of the growing popularity of Bourbon. Our pledge to you is to continue to produce only the highest quality whiskey—one where you can be guaranteed a consistent taste bottle after bottle. To help maintain that quality and consistency, Heaven Hill expanded its team of distillers and named Denny Potter as co-Master Distiller. He joins 7th generation Master Distiller Craig Beam in managing production at the historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, where Evan Williams, the second largest selling Bourbon in the world, is made. In addition to overseeing all production, the duo also safeguards the world's second largest supply of aging Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, an inventory of more than a million barrels.

To get to a million high-quality barrels, you have to focus on making one barrel at a time. And, one barrel is exactly how many barrels can be made a day off the stills of our distillery located at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville. This fully functional, artisanal pot-still distillery requires a hands-on approach, something that our Artisanal Distiller, Charlie Downs learned by working with the Beam family for over 38 years. He brings his keen senses and tools of the trade to the craftsmanship of making Bourbon in such small batches. Denny, Craig and Charlie honor the traditions that the Beam family has passed down for generations, starting first with Craig’s grandfather, Earl Beam and Craig’s father, Parker Beam. For more than 50 years, Craig, Parker and Earl have built a consistent taste that consumers have come to know and love. Today, the goal of the Master Distillers is to maintain that consistency by ensuring that only the highest quality whiskey goes into every barrel.

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.


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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