Review: ONW Bourbon Whiskey

DSR-NC-001 – ONW Bourbon Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Old Nick Williams Co. Farm & Distillery

Location: Lewisville, North Carolina

Mash bill: 60% Corn, 35% Wheat, 5% Malted Barley

Age Statement:  At Least 18 Months Old

Proof/ABV: 92 Proof/46% ABV

Color: Light Honey/Amber

Purchase Price: $34.99 (Purchased February 22, 2020)

Bottle Label Information: Bottle No. 180, Batch No. 6; “America’s Most Famous Forgotten Distillery”. Made in copper and stainless stills. Uses our 200 year old family recipe which has been enjoyed by Presidents, Congressmen, and other distinguished gentlemen. Won the Double Gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.


Old Nick Williams Company Farm & Distillery traces its distilling heritage back to 250 years, before the Revolutionary War, in 1768. It was during this period that The Williams Distillery was established by Joseph Williams in what was then known as Rowan County, North Carolina. The distillery has not changed locations but is now located in the Piedmont Triad, Forsyth county, in the town of Lewisville.

The distillery was operated by multiple generations in the family up until Prohibition forced them to close their doors. Below are the highlights of their history before Prohibition:

  • Joseph Williams: Established and ran The Williams Distillery from 1768 until approximately 1827.
  • Nicholas Lanier Williams and his son Joseph Williams: Operated the Joseph Williams Distillery from 1827 until about 1887 and introduced the “Old Nick” whiskey brand.
  • Nicholas Glen Williams: Took over the distillery from 1887 until 1913. During his time he renamed the distillery “Old Nick Distillery” and sourced whiskey from other local distilleries. He took his whiskey to the 1893 World’s Fair and the 1900 Paris Exposition. Upon his death, his widow, Mary, managed the remaining supply of whiskey until the enactment of Prohibition shut them down.
  • Van and John Williams with their sons, Zeb and Matt: Decided to relaunch the Old Nick Williams Distillery in 2014. In October 2015 they celebrated their first bottling since Prohibition.

Other Old Nick Williams Company Farm & Distillery Product Offerings:

  1. Carolina Whiskey
  2. Coattail Cinnamon Whiskey
  3. Jamerican Rum
  4. ONW Vodka

For more information visit their website: Old Nick Williams Whiskey

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: February 23, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass


Christian: Raisins, brown sugar, raw honey, and vanilla. Addition of water brought out a hint of butterscotch and oak.

Mike: Hints of oatmeal, brown sugar, raw honey, and raisins.


Christian: Soft and Delicate – smooth with little heat. Extremely approachable. Subtle notes of leather and cinnamon started to come through after adding the water.

Mike: Light cinnamon flavors and leather tones.


Christian: Short; Very little spice on the back-end. Oak flavors were also present. The addition of a few drops of water brought a slight finish of cherries.

Mike: Short and dry with some note of pine.


3/5 Rickhouses – “Make it neat!”

Final Thoughts

Christian: The wheat mash bill really brings a nice sweetness to the party. The light amber color, sweet nose, and short finish make this a very enjoyable offering from Old Nick Williams. Sometimes you get a harsh ethanol nose or lingering burn from some of ONW’s peers, that’s not the case with this one! Bottom line: Drink it neat, add a splash of water, add it to a cocktail–no matter how you choose to drink it, I think you will be very pleased.

Mike: I am partial to a wheated bourbon/whiskey. ONW Bourbon is a quality bourbon, though young, aged at least 18 months. Earlier expressions of the ONW Bourbon Whiskey were aged only 12 months. I would love to see what more time in the barrel could do for this bourbon. An additional 6 to 24 months would substantially enhance its flavor and garner it a fourth rickhouse. Most wheated bourbons from Kentucky carry 16% to 20% wheat in the mash bill while ONW comes in at 35%, which is perhaps why I enjoyed it so much.

Conclusion: We feel that the ONW Bourbon Whiskey by Old Nick Williams Company Farm and Distillery is a solid product. At $34 it is not the cheapest option available at its young age. However, the quality of the ingredients, hands-on distilling process, and enjoyable aromatics and flavor make it a fair value at its current price point. In the future, we would love to see a special release ONW Bourbon Whiskey, perhaps a gift shop only bottle, aged for an extended period of time (maybe 4-6 years) released to the public. That could really become something special!


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