Renaming, opening of state-of-the-art visitor center in Bardstown, Ky. commemorated by official proclamation of “National Bourbon Day” in Kentucky by Gov. Andy Beshear
Heaven Hill Distillery today celebrated the grand opening of the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown, Ky. The expansion, renovation and renaming are the culmination of a multi-year $125 million investment in Kentucky’s signature industry and model for the future of tourism since 2018. The state-of-the-art visitor center received a $19 million upgrade to become an interactive, educational space offering signature exhibits unique to the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience. Heaven Hill also invested $106 million across American Whiskey production including new barrel warehousing, bottling line and equipment upgrades, increased holdings of Bourbon Whiskey, and distillery enhancements. Heaven Hill President Max L. Shapira and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear presided over the ribbon cutting to commemorate the occasion, silhouetted against the new 1935 distillery replica exterior. Gov. Beshear also presented Shapira and Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory with a proclamation to henceforth name June 14 as “National Bourbon Day” in Kentucky.
First opened on October 15, 2004 as the Bourbon Heritage Center under the guidance of the late Harry Shapira, Heaven Hill’s presence as one of the first visitor centers on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has played an instrumental role in establishing Kentucky as a top tourist destination. The new Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience triples the previous footprint with more than 30,000 square feet, capable of welcoming over 900 American Whiskey enthusiasts or newcomers at any given time to witness history brought to life. From the 85-year history of Heaven Hill Distillery as nurturers of America’s spirit to the quintessential American success story of the Shapira family, the full breadth of whiskey splendor is on display including a new product unique to the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience and select Kentucky retailers. Five Brothers Bourbon is a small batch blending of five ages of Bourbon ranging from five- to nine-years-old, paying homage to the courage, dedication and solidarity of the five Shapira brothers who started it all in 1935(more details to be released later this week). The new experience also added 13 new staff positions to ensure every guest receives that quality experience for which Heaven Hill is known.
“In the heart of Bourbon country, we welcome fans back to experience America’s Native Spirit, immerse themselves in the long history of Heaven Hill, and learn about the award-winning portfolio of storied brands now told on these walls,” said Heaven Hill President Max L. Shapira. “We honor the vision held by my father and his four brothers, celebrating the people who built the foundation upon which we stand today. The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience is an innovative, state-of-the-art tourism model, grounded in history, and developed to entice fans for generations to come.”
Breaking ground in November 2018 in partnership with Solid Light and Abel Construction, Heaven Hill first unveiled the renovation phase of the new experience in November 2019 featuring three beautiful tasting rooms, each representing a pivotal Heaven Hill brand or story. Positioned around a larger-than-life barrel, the iconic tasting rooms overlook Heaven Hill’s main campus of rickhouses for spectacular views of Bourbon country. Prior to completing their designated tours, guests will join their bourbon host in the barrel for a wide-screen video about how barrels are made and their importance to the bourbon production process.
“I am proud to be in the heart of bourbon country to proclaim today National Kentucky Bourbon Day and I am thrilled to be here to congratulate the Shapira family and the Heaven Hill team on another successful project investing millions in Kentucky and our people,” Gov. Beshear said at the grand opening. “As we emerge from this pandemic with our economy booming, we are announcing more jobs and investment in the commonwealth every week, and the bourbon industry is no exception. This state-of-the-art visitor center will give people one more great reason to visit Kentucky and experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, creating even more jobs and opportunity.”
The innovative exhibits at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience offer an in-depth perspective not yet told on the Bourbon Trail, as a multi-sensory showcase of stories weaves the key turning points in history that brought to bear the legendary brands on the market today.
The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, which officially open its doors to the public at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 11:00 am to 6:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Five Brothers Bar will be open for cocktails Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tour reservations can be made online here and initial tour offerings will include:
Heaven Hill’s investment in the future of American Whiskey is also focused on the communities that lift up the industry. Bernheim Forest Executive Director Dr. Mark Wourms joined Shapira and Gov. Beshear on stage to celebrate Heaven Hill’s corporate partnership with Bernheim, as well as the commitment to donate $5 per bottle from the “You Do Bourbon” experience to Bernheim Forest for six months up to $10,000. Heaven Hill previously committed $10,000 to the new Rites of Passage program at Bernheim, which includes immersive experiences in nature as part of nurturing a new generation of young Black men and women during a critical phase of development.
The former Bourbon Heritage Center is a multiple past winner of Whisky Magazine’s “Visitor Attraction of the Year” award at the magazine’s annual “Icons of Whisky” Awards, consistently ranked as one of the top tours in the Bardstown area, drawing 60,000 visitors per year. In Louisville, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is dedicated to the story of Kentucky’s First Distiller and the world’s 2nd largest Bourbon brand also under the Heaven Hill Distillery umbrella, Evan Williams. Typically hosting 100,000 visitors annually, it was the first distillery back on Whiskey Row in Downtown Louisville. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (www.kybourbontrail.com), takes visitors through the heart of the Bluegrass and a stop in on the state’s distilleries. More than 1.3 million people visited the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries in 2019, with 38+ tourism experience across the state.
ABOUT HEAVEN HILL DISTILLERY: Founded in Kentucky by the Shapira family in 1935, Heaven Hill Distillery continues its legacy as one of the foremost American Whiskey producers. Heaven Hill has cultivated the traditions and history of America’s Native Spirit with its fierce independence, passionate family ownership, dedication to quality, and thoughtful innovation. Today, Heaven Hill Distillery maintains over 1.8 million barrels aging in 63 warehouses throughout Nelson and Jefferson Counties. It is home to an award-winning collection of American Whiskeys including Elijah Craig Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon, Evan Williams Bourbon, Pikesville Rye Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Whisky, Parker’s Heritage Collection, and Old Fitzgerald along with its extensive Bottled-in-Bond label collection. Heaven Hill Distillery currently holds the title of 2020 Whisky Advocate Whisky of the Year, the second Whisky of the Year for Heaven Hill Distillery in the past four years. In 2019 Heaven Hill Distillery was named San Francisco World Spirits Competition Distillery of the Year, Best in Show Whisky, and previously held the titles of 2018 San Francisco Spirits Word Spirits Competition Best Bourbon, 2016 Whisky Magazine Distillery of the Year. For more information, please visit www.heavenhilldistillery.com.
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Heaven Hill Distillery