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
Nowadays, Parker is joined by his son Craig, who works alongside his father in much the same way as Parker did years before with his father, Earl. Together, the two are responsible for making sure that the Heaven Hill Bourbons that are produced at the historic Bernheim Distillery possess the same high quality and consistent taste that consumers have come to expect from such storied brands as Evan Williams and Elijah Craig.
Park Beam, Parker's grandfather and namesake, was the brother of James Beauregard Beam, better known as "Jim" Beam. It was Parker's father, Earl, who was the first to ply his trade at Heaven Hill. Earl, in turn, then turned the reins over to Parker in 1975. Parker's son Craig joined Heaven Hill in 1982, and with Craig firmly entrenched in the business as the eighth generation of Master Distillers, the family's continued legacy of Bourbon- making is assured.
In addition to overseeing all production, the two are also charged with safeguarding the world's second- largest supply of aging Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, an inventory of more than 675,000 barrels currently aging in Heaven Hill's 40+ open rick warehouses.
Corn, malted barley, rye and wheat are selected and ground according to the particular recipe, or mashbill, being used.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.