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Heaven Hill

Coordinates: 38°14′41″N 85°46′53″W / 38.2448°N 85.7815°W / 38.2448; -85.7815
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Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc
Company typePrivate
IndustryDrink industry
FounderShapira family
HeadquartersBardstown, Kentucky, United States
Key people
Max Shapira, Kate Latts, Allan Latts
Heaven Hill
TypeBourbon whiskey
ManufacturerHeaven Hill
Country of origin Kentucky, United States
Alcohol by volume 40%
Proof (US)80
Related productsHeaven Hill
Websiteheavenhill.com Edit this on Wikidata

Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. is a private, American family-owned and operated distillery founded in 1935 and headquartered in Bardstown, Kentucky, that produces and markets the Heaven Hill brand of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a variety of other distilled spirits.[1]

Its current distillery facility, called the Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery, is in Louisville, Kentucky. It is the seventh-largest alcohol supplier in the United States, the second-largest holder of bourbon whiskey inventory in the world, the largest, independent, family-owned and operated producer and marketer of distilled spirits in the United States,[1] and the only large family-owned distillery company headquartered in Kentucky (not counting Brown-Forman Corporation, which is publicly traded but more than two-thirds family-controlled, or Sazerac Company, which is family-owned but headquartered in Louisiana).[2]


Heaven Hill was founded by several investors shortly after the repeal of Prohibition in 1935, including a prominent distiller, Joseph L. Beam, and a member of the Shapira family.[3] As the company developed, the five brothers of the Shapira family bought out the other investors. Joe Beam remained as Master Distiller, along with his youngest son, Harry. Descendants of the Shapira brothers own and operate the company today.

All of the Master Distillers at Heaven Hill since its founding have been members of the Beam family. The original Master Distiller was Joseph L. Beam, Jim Beam's first cousin. He was followed by his son, Harry, who was followed by Earl Beam, the son of Jim Beam's brother, Park. Earl Beam was succeeded by the current Master Distillers, Parker Beam and his son, Craig Beam.

The original name was "Old Heavenhill Springs" distillery.[4] The company was founded as a bourbon distillery,[4] with a model focused on providing bulk whiskey for third parties on a basis of futures (a buyer would purchase fresh whiskey, to be held in Heaven Hill's warehouses until the buyer paid the government tax to have it released).[5] It also focused on its flagship bourbon labels, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. In the past two decades the company has expanded its portfolio, acquiring brands or obtaining import rights for gins, malt whiskey, vodkas, and other drinks.[4]

On November 7, 1996, Heaven Hill's production plant (registered plant DSP-KY-31[6]) was almost completely destroyed by fire.[7] The fire started in an aging warehouse and spread to other buildings and vehicles. 90,000 barrels (approximately 7.7 million gallons) of flammable bourbon were consumed. A "river of fire" flowed from the warehouses.[8] From one account of the fire: "Flames leapt hundreds of feet into the air and lit the sky throughout the night. Witnesses reported seeing whiskey barrels explode and rocket across the sky like shooting stars ... a two-mile long stretch of the creek that supplied process water to the distillery was set ablaze for a brief time."[9]

The company survived the next several years through the provision of production capacity by its fellow local bourbon labels, Brown-Forman and Jim Beam, until its purchase and adaptation of the Bernheim distillery in Louisville (registered plant DSP-KY-1[6]) from Diageo in 1999.[10] While fermenting, mashing, and distilling occurs at the new distillery, aging, bottling, and shipping still occur in Bardstown.

With the 2003 acquisition of distribution rights to Hpnotiq, Heaven Hill greatly expanded their product base beyond bourbon. Hpnotiq is now the fourth highest selling imported liqueur in the US.[11] While bourbon is still its main focus, Heaven Hill now distributes a wide variety of different products.

The Heaven Hill company strongly emphasizes the history and traditions of bourbon in its public relations, highlighting the company's location in the historical home of bourbon-making and its status as the only such company still under local ownership. In 2004, the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center was opened on the old distillery grounds, providing historical exhibits and guided tours of the plant.[12] The company also hosts the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival,[13] and several of the company's brands are named after famous local distillers.

Since 2010, Heaven Hill has invested more than $100m in distillery expansions, warehouse construction, and Bourbon tourism. In November 2018, Heaven Hill announced a $65m multi-year investment into expanding operations, which includes a renovation of the Bourbon Heritage Center.[14]

In September 2021, about 420 workers, all members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, went on strike due to disagreements over the terms of a new labor contract.[15]

In 2023, Heaven Hill Brands settled a legal dispute with Log Still Distillery over Log Still's use of the "J.W. Dant" name.[16] Heaven Hill had originally purchased the trademark in 1993, and had sued Log Still for trademark infringement in 2021,[17] after the distillery claimed it was "reviving the Dant legacy" on its website.[18]

Heaven Hill Adds Widow Jane, FEW and More in Samson & Surrey Acquisition.

Production process[edit]

Heaven Hill Bourbon is made from a mash composed of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. The barrels used for aging have a #3 char.[19] Prior to bottling, the whiskey is chill filtered through charcoal at 25 °F (−4 °C).[20]


Heaven Hill's beverage brands include:[21][22]

A bottle of Heaven Hill "Black" Bourbon

Bourbon whiskey: Cabin Still, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Fighting Cock. Heaven Hill, Henry McKenna, J.T.S. Brown, Larceny (wheated), Old Fitzgerald (wheated), Parker's Heritage Collection, Widow Jane

Corn whiskey: Georgia Moon, Mellow Corn

Rye whiskey: Pikesville, Rittenhouse

Wheat whiskey: Bernheim Original

FEW : Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt, American Whiskey

Canadian whisky: Black Velvet

Aperitif: Dubonnet

Brandy: Christian Brothers, Sacred Bond

Cognac: Ansac

Liqueur: Carolans, Copa De Oro, Coronet VSQ, Fulton's Harvest, Hpnotiq, Irish Mist, PAMA

Rum: Admiral Nelson, Blackheart

Tequila: Lunazul, Two Fingers

Vodka: Burnett's, Deep Eddy, Du Bouchett

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chinn, Valerie (October 16, 2017). "Heaven Hill Distillery unveils $25 million expansion in downtown Louisville". WDRB 41 Louisville News. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Heaven Hill Key Facts[permanent dead link] page on company web site. (Accessed June 2012)
  3. ^ "After 80 years in business, Heaven Hill to fill seven millionth barrel of Kentucky bourbon". Herald-Leader. February 8, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Givens, R. (2013). Bourbon at its Best: The Lore and Allure of America's Finest Spirits. Clerisy Press. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-1-57860-404-3. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  5. ^ Waymack & Harris 1995, p. 102
  6. ^ a b Bourbon Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) Numbers, BourbonDriker.com, January 15, 2010.
  7. ^ Reigler, Susan (September 7, 2016). "Vanishing Act: Why bourbon labels are telling us less and less". Louisville Eccentric Observer. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "Whiskey River Scorches Heaven Hill" Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine. Industrial Fire World. 1997.
  9. ^ John C. Birkmire. April 2009. "Process Hazards in the Distilled Spirits Industry" Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine. Loss Prevention Symposium. p. 271–273.
  10. ^ "Diageo to Sell Liquor Brands to Heaven Hill and Others". New York Times. February 25, 1999. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  11. ^ Clouser, Stephanie (September 2, 2011). "Heaven Hill toasts success of Hpnotiq". Louisville Business First.
  12. ^ Adkins, Ben (December 31, 2007). "From traditional to trend setting: Family-owned Heaven Hill repositions itself after five years of evolution - Louisville". Louisville Business First. Retrieved January 15, 2018. (subscription required)
  13. ^ Murray, J. (1997). Jim Murray's Complete Book of Whiskey: The Definitive Guide to the Whiskeys of the World. Carlton. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-85868-494-9. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  14. ^ "Heaven Hill pours $65m into Bardstown Bourbon ops". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  15. ^ Tobin, Ben. "6 weeks, no contract and a flipped truck: What to know about the Heaven Hill worker strike". The Courier-Journal.
  16. ^ Flight, The Bourbon (2023-08-04). "Log Still Distillery, Inc. make peace and settles lawsuit with Heaven Hill Brands". The Bourbon Flight. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  17. ^ "Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. v. Log Still Distilling, LLC, 575 F. Supp. 3d 785 | Casetext Search + Citator". casetext.com. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  18. ^ "Heaven Hill Settles Lawsuit With Log Still Distilling". Whiskey Raiders. 2023-08-04. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  19. ^ Waymack & Harris 1995, p. 104
  20. ^ Waymack & Harris 1995, p. 103
  21. ^ "Heaven Hill Distillery | Our Brands". heavenhilldistillery.com. Retrieved 2023-11-11.
  22. ^ Brands, Heaven Hill. "Heaven Hill Brands". Heaven Hill Brands. Retrieved 2023-11-11.


External links[edit]

38°14′41″N 85°46′53″W / 38.2448°N 85.7815°W / 38.2448; -85.7815