Heaven Hill was founded shortly after the repeal of Prohibition in 1935 by several investors, including a prominent distiller, Joseph L. Beam, and a member of the Shapira family. As the company developed, the five brothers of the Shapira family bought out the other investors. Joe Beam remained as Master Distiller, along with his youngest son, Harry.
Descendants of the Shapira brothers own and run the company to this day.
The original name was "Old Heavenhill Springs" distillery. The company was founded as a bourbon distillery, and for most of its existence has concentrated on its flagship bourbon labels, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. However, in the past two decades the company has expanded its portfolio significantly, acquiring brands or obtaining import rights for gins, malt whiskey, vodkas, and other drinks.
On November 7, 1996, Heaven Hill's production plant was almost completely destroyed by fire. Several of the company's warehouses were destroyed, and over 90,000 gallons of alcohol lost. The company survived the next several years through the provision of production capacity by its fellow local bourbon labels, Brown-Forman and Jim Beam, until its purchase and adaptation of the new Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery in Louisville, while fermenting, mashing, and distilling occurs at the new distillery, aging, bottling, and shipping still occur in Bardstown.
Heaven Hill's location in the historical home of bourbon-making, coupled with its status as the only such company still under local ownership, has led it to take a role in curating and advertising bourbon tradition. In 2004, the Bourbon Heritage Centre was opened on distillery grounds, featuring historical exhibits and guided tours of the plant. The company also hosts the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, and many of the company's own labels are named after famous local distillers.
The jewel of Heaven Hill Distilleries considerable crown, this bourbon ranks today as the second largest selling Kentucky straight bourbon and the second largest supply of aging Kentucky bourbon in the world. Heaven Hill, boasts an inventory of more than a million barrels. This is big-league bourbon, and Evan Williams has held that status for a seriously long time.
The brand’s name was inspired by a Welshman named, Evan Williams. Unlike many of those folk legends you hear about, featuring the kind of swashbuckling pioneers and intrepid Celts in need of a fresh start that bourbons and whiskeys tend to borrow their name from, the story of Evan Williams is actually well-known and accounted for. We know he left his distillery in Pembrokeshire to emigrate to America, and that he started a corn farm. We also know that he discovered pretty quickly that Kentucky makes a lot of corn. He decided with the excess he would do what he did best and began to distil his own whiskey.
In 1783 he set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River, and today, a marker stands at that very spot officially declaring Evan Williams as ‘Kentucky’s First Commercial Distiller’. Williams’ traditional 200 year old recipe is still used today by Heaven Hill to produce their Evan Williams bourbons, and he is commonly recognised as one of the founding fathers of Bourbon.
Today, the stills of the Heaven Hill distillery stand proud in downtown Louisville, producing a modest one barrel a day. Why only one barrel? Because Heaven Hill demands a certain level of quality control and care, so only one barrel can be made at a time.
Heaven Hill still meet their enormous demand however, and the site itself is a beautiful example of a fully functional, artisanal pot-still distillery. Located on Louisville’s historic ‘Whiskey Row,’ Heaven Hill allow tours of this functioning piece of history, named the ‘Evan Williams Bourbon Experience’. Somewhere for you to, respectfully, get your whiskey freak on. The distillery is wilfully manned by Craig Beam (yes, of that Beam family) and Denny Potter, who was brought in after the passing of Craig’s dad and master distiller emeritus Parker Beam, as co-master distiller.
EVAN WILLIAMS 1703 SMALL BATCH
Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch honours the year that Evan Williams founded Kentucky’s First Distillery. This small batch Bourbon is pulled from less than 200 barrels. It’s extra-aged and uses the same sour mash process and traditional recipe made popular by their namesake.
- Additional Information
Name Evan Williams 1783 Country USA Region Kentucky ABV% 43% Size 700ml Dietary Information No