Heaven Hill breaks ground on new distillery named for one lost in 1996 blaze

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, left; from left, Allan Latts, chief operating officer; Heaven Hill President Max Shapira; and chief marketing officer Kate Shapria Latts, as they prepare to break ground on the company’s new Heaven Hill Springs Distillery. Click to enlarge.


Monday, June 6, 2022 — Bardstown’s Heaven Hill broke ground Monday on its new $135 million distillery, bestowing it with the name of the company’s original distillery that was destroyed by fire in 1996.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear joined Heaven Hill President Max Shapira and the company’s master distiller, Conor O’Driscoll, to commemorate the groundbreaking of Heaven Hill Springs, a name that harks back to the company’s origins, and signals the start of a new chapter in one of the nation’s largest family-owned and operated distilled spirits company.

Artist’s rendering of the completed Heaven Hill Springs Distillery. Click to enlarge.

“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.”

The new, state-of-the-art Heaven Hill Springs Distillery is being built on property once known as “the old Scobee place” in a large tract located between Old Bloomfield Pike and KY 245.

According to Shapira, the company’s Bernheim Distillery in Louisville is operating at capacity of 450,000 barrels annually. Heaven Hill purchased that distillery to replace the one lost in the 1996 fire.

The new distillery is expected to be operating by the end of 2024. Initial production is expected to begin at 150,000 barrels a year, and over time will have capacity to ramp up to producing 450,000 barrels annually, doubling the company’s distillery output.

“If you do the math, you’ll see that we’ll be producing 900,000 barrels a year at that point,” Shapira said. “Needless to say, we’re bullish on bourbon.”

Heaven Hill President Max Shapira.

The new distillery has been 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 also will plan to utilize energy creation and recovery, lessening the distillery’s demand on the city’s electrical grid.

The new distillery adds at minimum 38 jobs to the company’s 381 people already working in Bardstown at Heaven Hill’s Loretto Road bottling, aging and tourism facilities.

HEAVEN HILL’S BEGINNINGS. 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 13 of that year.

The company grew over the years and added several acclaimed brands, including Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Larceny, Henry McKenna and more, which have earned numerous spirits-industry accolades. 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 almost 100,000 barrels of whiskey. After the fire, the bottling and aging of whiskey along with other functions proudly continued in the Bardstown area where they remain today. In addition, in 2004, the company dedicated the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center—most recently expanded and renamed to the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience—that has become an award-winning focal point for the region’s bourbon tourism and has greeted millions of visitors over the years.


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