Heaven Hill recently broke ground on a $135-million distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, in a homecoming that pays tribute to the family-owned company’s original distillery that burned in a devastating fire in 1996.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear joined Heaven Hill President Max Shapira and Master Distiller Conor O’Driscoll to officially kick off construction, and they were on hand to reveal the new distillery’s name … Heaven Hill Springs Distillery.
“We’re honored to celebrate this homecoming with a return to distilling in Bardstown to augment our overall bourbon-making capacity, as well as continue to make an impact in the Bardstown community,” Shapira said. “I’m proud to salute our history and the many Bardstown men and women who helped build our brands over the years by naming our new facility in honor of the original Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery that my father and uncles founded in this community nine decades ago.”
Heaven Hill Springs Distillery (image via Heaven Hill)
The new Heaven Hill Springs Distillery is going up in the heart of the Bardstown community. It’s expected to be operational by the end of 2024.
Initial production calls for 150,000 barrels a year, and over time will have capacity to ramp up to 450,000 barrels annually. This is in addition to the company’s distilling at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. That facility will continue to operate at full capacity of 450,000 barrels annually.
A statement from Heaven Hill notes that as part of their 2030 Environmental Sustainability Strategy, the new distillery has been designed to create a more environmentally conscious distilled spirits industry and ensure a thriving environment for years to come.
Heaven Hill Springs Distillery is engineered to minimize water use to below industry benchmarks and reuse certain water streams. The site will use native plants and natural systems to manage stormwater runoff and improve habitat on the property.
The distillery will include a wastewater pretreatment system to ensure discharged water exceeds environmental standards and greatly reduces the load on the city’s treatment plant.
Heaven Hill will also utilize energy creation and recovery, lessening the distillery’s demand on the city’s electrical grid.
“This is a significant day for Heaven Hill and Kentucky. The return of distilling operations to Nelson County is a return to the company’s roots, and the investment highlights the continued growth of bourbon and spirits in the commonwealth,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “I am incredibly happy for the residents of Bardstown and the surrounding area, and I want to thank the leaders at Heaven Hill for this commitment to create new job opportunities and build the company’s presence in our state.”
Max Shapira’s father and four uncles, along with a group of Bardstown-area investors, founded “Old Heaven Hill Springs” distillery in 1935, and filled its first barrel on December 13th of that year.
The company grew over the years and added several brands, including Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Larceny, Henry McKenna and more. Master distillers of the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery over the years included Joe Beam, Harry Beam, Earl Beam, Parker Beam and Craig Beam.
In 1996, a fire resulted in the loss of the distillery, seven rickhouses and nearly 100,000 barrels of whiskey. After the fire, Heaven Hill moved distilling to the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville.
However, the bottling and aging of whiskey along with other functions continued in the Bardstown area where they remain today. In addition, in 2004, the company dedicated the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, which most recently expanded and was renamed the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, and has greeted millions of visitors over the years.
Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...