Family-owned company marks a homecoming with a return to distilling in Bardstown
Nine decades since first operating a distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier is deepening its bourbon roots in its home community.
Heaven Hill Distillery today announced plans for a new, $135 million distillery to open by 2024. The state-of-the-art distillery will augment Heaven Hill’s distilling capacity to meet increased global whiskey demand and marks the company’s return to distilling in Bardstown since a 1996 fire when Heaven Hill lost 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.
“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. “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.”
Heaven Hill will build the new distillery on a vacant 61-acre site at 1015 Old Bloomfield Pike, off KY 245. Construction is slated to begin this spring and the distillery will be operational by the end of 2024. Initial production is slated for 10 million proof gallons a year, or 150,000 barrels, and will have capacity to ramp up to producing 30 million proof gallons, or 450,000 barrels, over time. Heaven Hill will continue to age bourbon at existing locations and the Bernheim distillery in Louisville will continue to operate at full capacity.
“Bourbon making is an old art, but we are applying forward-thinking approaches to ensure we are environmentally conscious and a good neighbor,” said 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.”
Heaven Hill and Bardstown: ‘a shared and storied history’
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. Since that time, Heaven Hill has added several acclaimed brands, earned numerous industry accolades including “Whiskey of the Year” and “Distillery of the Year,” and attracted millions of bourbon tourists to its visitor experiences, along its way to filling more than 9.5 million barrels in its history.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved incentives to support the Heaven Hill distillery project at its April meeting.