Heaven Hill has reopened its Bardstown visitor center after a compete overhaul under the name “Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience,” and experience is certainly the correct word for it.
Throughout the redesigned space, visitors will find informative videos, displays of historic items from the 86 years of the distiller’s history, and hands-on experiences including how a whiskey thief works, bottle-your-own, and more.
Heaven Hill Distillery was founded in 1935 by five brothers, whose descendants still own and run the company today.
“Our family has been involved since the 85 years ago when my dad and his four brothers, in the middle of the Great Depression, with no production facility, no inventory, no brands, no knowledge of how to operate a distillery, made a very speculative investment in what was a struggling fledgling enterprise,” said Heaven Hill President Max Shapira. “It has been a long time since those early days, with numerous starts and stops along the way, but I know they would be genuinely proud of what we are presenting today.”
Shapira went on to present the latest Heaven Hill label, Five Brothers Bourbon, which bears the images of the original five Shapira brothers who started the company back in 1935.
“As we turn the page to the next chapter of Heaven Hill’s story, we officially welcome you to our new Visitor Center,” Shapira said. “This project represents a $19 million investment in Kentucky’s signature industry, and is a model for the future of tourism. This project has also been part of a larger investment over the last two years of approximately $110 million, including new production, ageing and warehouse capacity, and other bottling and equipment upgrades, with more to come. Yes, we are bullish on bourbon.”
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear was on hand for remarks about the strength of Kentucky’s Bourbon industry and how it has positively impacted the Commonwealth’s economy, providing jobs and supporting families.
After the ribbon was cut, Governor Beshear was the first to fill a bottle of Bourbon in the “You Do Bourbon” exhibit.
In the “You Do Bourbon” portion of the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, visitors will have the opportunity to learn how to taste bourbon as well as the opportunity to fill their own bottles from a choice of four selections.
For the first six months, $5 from every “You Do Bourbon” ticket sold (up to $10,000) will go to Bernheim Forest’s Rites of Passage Program, which provides immersive nature programming for Louisville’s Black youth.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Governor Beshear declared June 14th “National Kentucky Bourbon Day,” to boot.
Just last month, Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville, Kentucky released the first product to be distilled onsite at that artisanal distillery, Square 6 Bourbon.
As Kentucky continues to open back up to visitors there will be plenty of new things to see, regardless of how many times guests have already visited.
Visitors can find the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience at 1311 Gilkey Run Road in Bardstown, KY, 40004. Reservations are currently required for these experiences and are filling up fast. Booking ahead online is strongly encouraged.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl