A visit to Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center

Heaven Hill

We went to Heaven Hill Distilleries and found no distillery there.

There used to be one there, until Nov. 7, 1996, when one of Heaven Hill’s warehouses caught fire. It is thought that lightning struck it. The resulting inferno destroyed it and several other warehouses, consuming 90,000 barrels of bourbon. The fire also destroyed the distillery.

Heaven Hill bought the Bernheim distillery in Louisville and now distills all of their whiskeys there. They then truck the distillate to this facility, just outside Bardstown, where it is barreled and aged.

Heaven Hill
Heaven Hill

On our visit we got to walk through their visitor center and their bonded warehouse. If you’ve ever seen a bourbon labeled “Bottled in Bond,” it was made at a single distillery by one distiller in one distillation season, it was aged for at least four years in a bonded (government supervised) warehouse, was bottled at 100 proof, and its label tells where it was distilled and where it was aged. This 1897 law was meant to protect consumers from adulterated whiskeys, cut with iodine or rust — which was a problem at that time.

Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill makes a couple dozen different whiskeys spanning price ranges from the bottomest of the bottom shelf to some mighty tasty and expensive stuff. We sampled five of them before we left, all delicious in their own ways.

Heaven Hill, by the way, is the largest independent, family-owned distiller of spirits in the United States. The other large distilleries are owned by national and global corporations. Heaven Hill remains headquartered in Kentucky.

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8 responses to “A visit to Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center”

  1. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    Now you’ve made me want to try some!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My nefarious plan is working!

  2. J P Avatar

    What a shame that the only locally owned place of its scale has the least to see. You make me want to buy some, and I don’t even drink bourbon.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, maybe sometime we’ll have to go down to Louisville and tour Bernheim to finish the Heaven Hill experience.

  3. Clare Hennessey Avatar
    Clare Hennessey

    Wow Jim, 100 proof!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      As my grandfather used to say, “That’ll put hair on your chest.”

  4. Bib Haslam Avatar
    Bib Haslam

    I’m jealous Jim. Wish I had a taste in between my Franzishaner Weissbier’s right now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s gin and tonic for us here tonight Bib!

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