Bardstown and Heaven Hill: A Shared and Storied History

The five Shapira brothers and a group of Bardstown-area investors founded “Old Heaven Hill Springs” distillery in 1935 and filled its first barrel—labeled Bourbon Falls—on December 13 of that year. The company grew over the years and added several acclaimed brands, including Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna and more, which have earned numerous spirits-industry accolades.

In 1996, a fire at our Bardstown campus resulted in the loss of our onsite distillery, seven rickhouses and almost 100,000 barrels of whiskey. After the fire, we moved our distilling to the historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. However the bottling and aging of whiskey along with other functions proudly continued in the Bardstown area where they remain today.

In addition, in 2004, we dedicated the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center—most recently expanded to the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience—that has become a focal point for the region’s bourbon tourism and has greeted millions of visitors over the years.

Today, Heaven Hill is the largest family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier, having filled more than 9.5 million barrels in its near nine decades of history in Kentucky.

“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.”