Heaven Hill Bringing Distilling Back To Bardstown After Fire 26 Years Ago

26 years ago a devastating fire struck the Heaven Hill facilities in Bardstown, Kentucky, destroying its onsite distillery, seven rickhouses, and almost 100,000 barrels of whiskey. After the fire, Heaven Hill’s distilling moved to the historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, while bottling, aging of whiskey and other functions continued in the Bardstown area where they remain today.

Now, in a move to bring a part of distilling activities back to its home community, the the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier has announced plans for a new, $135 million distillery to open in Bardstown by 2024.

The new facility, according to the company, will augment Heaven Hill’s distilling capacity to meet increased global whiskey demand. When the distillery becomes operational by the end of 2024, initial production there is slated for 10 million proof gallons a year, or 150,000 barrels, and it will have capacity to ramp up to producing 30 million proof gallons, or 450,000 barrels, over time.

Heaven Hill Bardstown distillery

A rendering of the planned Bardstown distillery (image via Heaven Hill)

Heaven Hill will continue to age bourbon at existing locations and the Bernheim distillery in Louisville will continue to operate at full capacity.

“The people of Bardstown have helped us create and build our brands over all these many years, so it’s a special homecoming to bring distilling back to this community,” said Max Shapira, President of Heaven Hill, in a prepared statement. “Our new distillery will honor our long-time Bardstown roots while applying state-of-the-art equipment and processes to produce the highest quality American Whiskey and build upon our meaningful partnership with Bardstown and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

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“Bourbon making is an old art, but we are applying forward-thinking approaches to ensure we are environmentally conscious and a good neighbor,” added Conor O’Driscoll, Heaven Hill Distillery Master Distiller. “Heaven Hill’s tradition of distilling with attention to detail, quality and craftsmanship will now be even more accessible as we grow our distilling heritage in Bardstown.”

The relationship between Bardstown and Heaven Hill stretches back over time. The five Shapira brothers and a group of Bardstown-area investors founded “Old Heavenhill Springs” distillery in 1935 and filled its first barrel—labeled Bourbon Falls—on December 13 of that year.

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...