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Resurgent Distillery Is a Homecoming for Heaven Hill in Bardstown, KY


Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery was nestled at the base of a hill that slopes down to tranquil Gilkey Run Road in Bardstown, Kentucky, not far from owner Heaven Hill’s main offices. The distillery was constructed in 1935, the year of the business’s starting. The old warhorse was the switchboard of the operation– till the afternoon of November 7, 1996, when catastrophe struck.

A fire broke out in a rackhouse at the top of the hill, and within minutes it was burning to the ground. Its flaming bourbon barrels were developed into rivers of fire, streaming forth to spark 6 more storage facilities. Sustained by stormy weather and high winds, the fires erupted throughout the night. Witnesses saw barrels blow up into the night sky, and the flames reached hundreds of feet into the air. The streams of flaming bourbon ultimately made their method down the hill to the distillery, which was likewise taken in by the flames. Unbelievely, nobody was eliminated or seriously hurt, and 37 storage facilities somehow made it through. The fire damaged some 90,000 barrels, equivalent to 2% of the world’s bourbon supply at the time.

A view of Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in the 1970s.

The distillery was never ever restored. Rather, Heaven Hill participated in talks with United Distillers (UD), a Diageo predecessor business, which was wanting to leave the bourbon company at the time. In 1999 a contract was struck for Heaven Hill to obtain UD’s huge Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, in what showed to be among the terrific bourbon offers of perpetuity. Bernheim has actually been Heaven Hill’s distilling house since, though the storage facilities and bottling operations stay in Bardstown. The footprint of the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery ended up being a grain-receiving and storage location and is still utilized for that function today– implying that a minimum of a part of the production procedure stays at that website after all these years.

In a symbolic closing of the circle, today Heaven Hill began on a brand-new $135-million distillery in Bardstown, to be called Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in honor of the first location. Of maybe even higher importance, the event will mark Heaven Hill’s return to distilling in Bardstown after a space of almost 30 years.

The brand-new distillery’s place will be at 1015 Old Bloomfield Pike, a number of miles far from the old center, and is slated to end up being functional by 2024. The preliminary annual production capability will be 150,000 barrels, however gradually will broaden to 450,000 barrels, the exact same size as Bernheim.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Heaven Hill president Max Shapira, and master distiller Conor O’Dricoll break ground on the new Heaven Hill Springs Distillery.

Heaven Hill Springs Distillery will be utilized to enhance the business’s American bourbon production. It will likewise house some development tasks, though nobody is yet sure what form those will take. Some parts of the brand-new center might be opened to the general public in the future, however the tourist element will be very little. The focus will be dealing with the 6 conventional Heaven Hill mashbills– for bourbon (78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley), wheated bourbon (68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley), rye (51% rye, 35% corn, 14% malted barley), corn scotch (80% corn, 8% rye, 12% malted barley), wheat (51% wheat, 37% corn, 12% malted barley), and malt bourbon (65% malted barley, 35% corn).

With Bernheim expanded to the full limitations of its Louisville footprint and bourbon sales flourishing, it was just a matter of time prior to Heaven Hill got to deal with structure another distillery. The only concern was where it would be. In the end, Bardstown was the sensible– and nostalgic– option.

“We’re honored to celebrate this homecoming,” said Heaven Hill president Max Shapira in his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony. “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.”

H/T WhiskyAdvocates

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