Monogram "FR" inside a horseshoe logo design.

Green River Distilling

  • Owensbro, Kentucky
  • Gold Medal and “Best of Show” at the Paris Exposition, 1900, Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle de Liege, 1905, Medal for Excellence at the World’s Fair, 1893
Phone Number
  • +12706919001
  • 10 Distillery Rd, Owensboro, KY 42301, United States
Green River Distilling Company sign with landscaped entrance.
green river distilling

History of Green River Distilling


Founding and Early Success (1885-1907)

  • 1885: Establishment of Green River Distillery
    • J.W. McCulloch founded the distillery in Kentucky, designated as DSP-KY-10, the 10th oldest in the state.
  • 1901: International Recognition
    • The distillery’s Green River Whiskey won multiple international awards.
  • 1907: Marketing Milestone
    • Green River became the world’s most advertised whiskey, a testament to its growing popularity.

The Golden Age (1908-1918)

  • 1913: Medical Endorsement
    • The whiskey was chosen as the official spirit for the U.S. Marine Hospital for its high quality.
  • 1915: Premium Branding
    • Marketed as “The Whiskey Without A Headache,” emphasizing its quality.
  • 1917: Record-Breaking Trade
    • Green River Whiskey’s 20 barrels were exchanged for a stake in a Colorado gold mine, earning it the title of “most expensive spirit or whiskey ever sold.”
  • 1918: Catastrophic Fire
    • A devastating fire destroyed the distillery and over 40,000 barrels of whiskey.

The Prohibition Era and Decline (1919-1993)

  • 1933: Reconstruction Post-Prohibition
    • The distillery was rebuilt, and the brand was sold, leading to a change in its marketing strategy.
  • 1955: End of an Era
    • Distribution of Green River Bourbon ceased.
  • 1956-1993: Dormancy
    • The distillery changed hands several times and was eventually abandoned.

Revival and Modern Success (2014-Present)

  • 2014: Rebirth of the Distillery
    • Reconstruction began, focusing on preserving much of the original facility.
  • 2016: A New Beginning
    • Green River Whiskey was distilled again at its original site after 131 years.
  • 2022: Bourbon Reintroduction
    • The distillery released Green River Bourbon globally.
  • 2023: Expansion and Innovation
    • Distribution expanded to 25 states, with new products like Green River Wheated Bourbon and Green River Single Barrel. The distillery became a proud member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Awards Won by Green River Distilling

  • World’s Fair, 1893:
    • Award: Medal for Excellence.
    • Significance: This was the distillery’s first major recognition, setting a high standard for its whiskey. 
  • Paris Exposition, 1900:
    • Awards: Gold Medal and “Best of Show”.
    • Significance: These awards marked Green River’s notable international achievement, elevating its status in the world of fine spirits.
  • Exposition Universelle de Liege, 1905:
    • Award: Grand Prize.
    • Significance: This honor at a prestigious Belgian exposition further solidified Green River’s reputation in the European market.
  • Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, 1905:
    • Award: Grand Prize.
    • Location: Portland, Oregon.
    • Significance: The award at this American exposition emphasized Green River’s domestic acclaim alongside its international success.
  • Esposizione Internazionale, 1906:
    • Award: Grand Prize.
    • Location: Milan, Italy.
    • Significance: This Italian accolade added to the distillery’s growing list of European honors.

  • Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, 1907:
    • Award: Grand Prize.
    • Significance: Another significant win, this time at an exposition commemorating the 300th anniversary of Jamestown, Virginia.

Green River Distilling Tour Information and Experience

Visiting Green River Distilling offers a unique and immersive experience into the world of bourbon whiskey. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

Cocktail Class

  • Experience: Learn to craft two specialty bourbon cocktails.
  • Availability: Mon-Fri @ 3p Central, Sat @ 2p Central.
  • Cost: $55.

Barrel Thieving Tour

  • Experience: Taste products directly from selected barrels, includes a take-home Green River Glencairn glass.
  • Availability: Tue-Fri @ 2p Central.
  • Cost: $45.

Distillery Tour

  • Overview: Explore 28 acres of bourbon production and history, from grain unloading to barrel dumping, followed by product tasting.
  • Availability: Tue-Sat @ 9a, 11a, 1p, & 3p Central (3pm tour not available on Saturdays).
  • Cost: $20.

Sit & Sip

  • Experience: Enjoy a history lesson and taste three Green River bourbons in the tasting room.
  • Availability: Mon: every half hour from 9 to 3p; Tue-Sat @ 10:30a & 1:30p Central.
  • Cost: $12.

Visitor Center and Gift Shop

  • Features: Check-in, gift shop, cocktail bar, and event space.
  • Bar and Shop Hours: Mon-Fri: 9am to 4:30pm, Sat: 9am to 3:30pm.

Event Hosting

Green River Distilling also offers elegant private event spaces for various occasions.

Unique Aspects

The distillery, located in Owensboro, KY, combines an industrial feel with historic elements. It features barrelhouses, main production buildings, and a visitor center at the back of the campus. The tour includes a detailed distillery history, a walkthrough of the production process, and insights into their unique rickhouses that use both side fill and end fill barrels.

Tasting Experience

The tasting session offers a variety of whiskeys, including contract-distilled brands, and is led by knowledgeable guides.

Flask & Barrel Review of Green River Distilling

As a seasoned whiskey collector who has toured numerous distilleries, I have to say my recent visit to Green River Distilling was an exceptional experience, deserving a solid 4.7 out of 5. The distillery, with its blend of industrial vibes and historical charm, really sets the scene for an engaging tour.

The variety of tours on offer means there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a newbie to the whiskey world or a connoisseur like me. I opted for the Barrel Thieving tour, and it was a standout. Tasting whiskey straight from the barrel was a unique experience, and taking home a Green River Glencairn glass was a nice touch.

I was impressed by the depth of knowledge shared by the tour guides. They didn’t just recite facts; they told stories, making the history of this 10th oldest Kentucky distillery come alive. The passion of the staff was evident, and it added a personal touch to the whole experience.

The Sit & Sip experience was another highlight. Learning about the distillery’s history while sampling their fine bourbons was both educational and enjoyable. And as a collector, I appreciated the chance to taste whiskeys that you can’t just find anywhere.

The only reason I’m holding back from a full 5/5 is the gift shop. While it had a great selection, I felt it could have offered a wider range of rare or limited edition bottles, especially for collectors. That said, the overall ambiance and quality of the whiskey made my visit truly memorable.

What To Do Nearby Green River Distilling

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum: A short drive from Green River Distilling, this museum celebrates the origins and evolution of bluegrass music. It’s a great spot for music lovers, featuring interactive exhibits and live performances.

Downtown Owensboro: Close to the distillery, the downtown area offers a variety of restaurants, bars, coffee houses, and stores. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll and some window shopping.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn: Known for its authentic Kentucky BBQ, this family-owned joint, just a short drive away, is famous for its hickory-smoked meats and signature buffet.

Owensboro Museum of Fine Art: This museum houses a diverse collection of American, Asian, and European art, spanning from the 1400s to present day. It’s housed in historic buildings, adding to its charm.

Owensboro Convention Center: Situated on the riverbank, this facility hosts a variety of events, from trade shows to concerts. It’s a hub for cultural and social activities.

Yellow Creek Park: A bit farther out, this 153-acre park offers softball fields, nature trails, and a playground, making it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and families.

Towne Square Mall: For those who enjoy shopping, this mall features a wide range of stores, salons, and dine-in restaurants.

Owensboro Museum of Science and History: This museum provides interactive exhibits about the history of Owensboro and Kentucky’s coal mining industry.

Reid’s Orchard: A family-owned orchard offering fresh produce and homemade products. It’s a great spot to experience Kentucky’s farming culture.

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden: This peaceful garden features themed areas, such as an herb garden and a rose garden, perfect for a relaxing walk.

Preservation Station Market and Event Center: A unique flea market set in a former school, offering a wide range of antiques, vintages, and crafts.

Jack C. Fisher Park: A community park with a softball complex, picnic facilities, and walking trails.

Owensboro Convention Center: A modern venue hosting various events, exhibitions, and fairs, located right on the riverbank.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Green River Distilling?

Colby’s Fine Food & Spirits: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on +12706854239. Their address is 204 W 3rd St, Owensboro, KY.

Papa Grande Mexican Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on +12706831615. Their address is 544 Southtown Blvd, Owensboro, KY.

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on +12706852092. Their address is 3040 Highland Pointe Dr, Owensboro, KY.

What hotels are near Green River Distilling?

Hampton Inn Owensboro South: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +12706852005. Their address is 401 W 2nd St, Owensboro, KY 42301, United States.

Holiday Inn Owensboro Riverfront, an IHG Hotel: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +12706831111. Their address is 701 W 1st St, Owensboro, KY 42301, United States.

Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +12706852005. Their address is in 401 W 2nd St, Owensboro, KY 42301, United States.