$17.5 million project will add more history, interactivity to Bourbon Heritage Center

BURYING BOURBON. Following the announcement of the expansion of the Bourbon Heritage Center, four bottles of Heaven Hill bourbon were buried as good luck measure. From left, Cynthia Torp, CEO of Solid Light; Heaven Hill president Max Shapira; Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum, and Bill Abel of Abel Construction. Click to enlarge.


Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 — Heaven Hill Distilleries unveiled plans Friday morning to substantially expand the Bourbon Heritage Center and add additional production capacity to its bourbon manufacturing and bottling infrastructure.

Max Shapira, president of Heaven Hill, explains the scope of the visitors center project. Click to enlarge.

Heaven Hill President Max Shapira said the company will invest a total of $65 million in both projects over the next 2-1/2 years.

Of that total, $17.5 million will go into a project that will substantially expand the distillery’s Bourbon Heritage Center. Not only will the center double in size, but Shapira said the expansion will allow for a more complete telling of the company, its founders, it brands as well as the history of Kentucky Bourbon.

The expansion will include more interactive exhibits, including the ability for a visitor to control the production and bottling of their own bottle of Bourbon on the site.

The project will offer expanded opportunity for learning of Bourbon, including the history of the Rev. Elijah Craig, known as “the father of Kentucky bourbon,” and the history of the company from its 1935 post-Prohibition founding by the Shapira family.

Artist’s rendering of the expanded Bourbon Heritage Center. The existing center is on the right; the expanded areas are on the left. Click to enlarge.

When asked his thoughts about the growth of bourbon tourism over the past 20 years, Shapira was bluntly honest.

Heaven Hill president Max Shapira greets Judge Executive Dean Watts and his wife, Katy, at the visitors center announcement Friday. Click to enlarge.

“I never anticipated the entire category of bourbon would grow to what its become today,” he said. “It’s been phenomenal.”

Joining Shapira onstage for the announcement was Kristen Branscum, the state tourism commissioner, and Cynthia Torp, the CEO of Solid Light.

Solid Light is handling the creation of the interactive, state-of-the-art storytelling experience that will greet visitors in the new visitors center. Solid Light was involved in the creation of the initial visitor’s center, which opened in 2004.

During her comments, Torp showed the crowd a commemorative Bourbon bottle that Harry Shapira gave her the day the Bourbon Heritage Center opened, commenting that she had worked hard to protect the contents of that very special bottle.

Solid Light has partnered with Abel Construction of Louisville to build the visitor’s center expansion. The facility should be open within the next 18 months.


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