Thursday, May 9, 2013
Louisville's Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Joins the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer made the announcement at the downtown site on historic Whiskey Row where Heaven Hill is building its multi-million dollar artisanal distillery and immersive tourism experience, scheduled to open this fall. (Pictured here in an architectural rendering.)
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week,” Fischer said. “This is a huge step to enhance the city’s Bourbon tourism efforts."
Heaven Hill executives and other leaders of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, which created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program in 1999, gave Fischer a commemorative barrel filled with whiskey from all eight distillery stops to mark the occasion.
“Today starts a great new tourism partnership for our signature industry and the city of Louisville that will pay benefits for years to come,” said Max L. Shapira, President of Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the largest independent family owned and operated distilled spirits company in the United States.
“The skyrocketing success of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour has been amazing,” he said. “It is a world-class and much-celebrated attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world, all eager to spend and savor our unique Bourbon history.”
More than 2.5 million people have visited Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries in the last five years, including a record 509,292 in 2012, said KDA President Eric Gregory. That was the first time the tour broke the half-million mark in a single year.
Gregory called Louisville "a Kentucky Bourbon Trail anchor.” As Kentucky's largest city and business capital, Louisville has much to offer bourbon-oriented visitors. For years, it has offered its Urban Bourbon Trail, a collection of bars deemed hospitable to bourbon seekers. Earlier this year, it debuted "The Bourbon Classic," which is slated to become Louisville's annual bourbon festival. Louisville has many other visitor attractions, such as the Louisville Slugger Museum and Muhammad Ali Center, many great lodging choices, and a dynamic culinary scene.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, located at 528 West Main Street, may mark the beginning of a trend of brand welcome centers based in downtown Louisville. The Main Street neighborhood itself is historic for bourbon fans. Evan Williams' original 1783 distillery was located almost directly across the street from the new visitor attraction and that whole section of Main Street housed dozens of whiskey company offices and warehouses through the late 19th century.
The 'Experience' will offer guided tours where guests will travel back in time to see Evan Williams’ original distillery, Louisville town hall meetings, and wharf scenes and video renderings of turn-of-the-century Whiskey Row. The highlight will be a fully functioning artisanal pot still distillery, with gleaming copper pot stills that are a modern version of the same type of equipment Evan Williams used in his distillery more than 200 years ago.
One of the signature features is the façade of the building (pictured above). The five-story-high Evan Williams Bourbon bottle graphic will transform into a large, glass, flowing Bourbon fountain in the lobby. “We’re confident that this new attraction will continue the revitalization of Whiskey Row and bring the same kind of success that we’ve been fortunate to receive with our Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown,” said Harry J. Shapira, Executive Vice President for Heaven Hill.
Marcheta Sparrow, Secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program is “perhaps the most innovative and best example of private sector tourism development Kentucky has ever experienced."