Bourbon Industry

Heaven Hill Distillery announces $65-million expansion, facelift for visitors center

Heaven Hill Distillery’s new visitors center will feature a rooftop bar that serves cocktails and lets you savor the site of rickhouses full of aging bourbon.
Heaven Hill Distillery’s new visitors center will feature a rooftop bar that serves cocktails and lets you savor the site of rickhouses full of aging bourbon.

Heaven Hill Distillery is planning a major facelift and expansion of its visitors center in Bardstown.

The parent of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig announced on Friday a $65-million multi-year renovation and rebrand of the current Bourbon Heritage Center, which has welcomed visitors since 2004 and was one of the first on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The expansion also will increase bourbon production capacity in Bardstown, according to a news release.

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The new $17.5 million visitors center will tell the Heaven Hill story from its creation in 1935 under the Shapira family, which still owns the business. Iconic brands in the portfolio will be showcased in tours and experiences, according to the company. The expansion is contingent on receiving tourism incentives; it’s expected to create more than 20 new full-time and part-time jobs.

New features will include:

The “widest variety of whiskey tastings and educational seminars on the market,” featuring the Heaven Hill Distillery American Whiskey portfolio;

Spaces dedicated to Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Larceny Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey;

A “You Do Bourbon” hands-on lab where you can bottle your own bourbon;

A new rooftop bar for cocktails and bourbon tastings overlooking Heaven Hill’s rickhouses;

More retail space with branded merchandise, specialty foods, locally crafted gifts and more of Heaven Hill’s premium bourbons and American whiskeys.

“At Heaven Hill Distillery we are committed to the growth of Kentucky bourbon and invite fans to experience, taste and learn from storied brands across our award-winning portfolio,” said Max Shapira, Heaven Hill president, in a statement.

The new facility is expected to be a tourism draw for Bardstown; the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville hosts 100,000 visitors annually, the company said.

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The new $17.5 million visitors center will feature the widest array of American whiskey tastings and educational seminars, according to Heaven Hill. Brands including Elijah Craig, Larceny and more will be featured. Rendering provided

Besides the visitors center, Heaven Hill plans a $47.5 million expansion to add new barrel warehouses, a new bottling line and to increase its holdings of aging bourbon, which might be good news for fans of favorites such as Henry MacKenna and other not-so-high-profile bourbons.

Earlier this year, Henry McKenna won Best Bourbon at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, setting of a hunt for the relatively untouted brand, one that many whiskey geeks consider their semi-secret house bourbon.

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