Kentucky bourbon giant Heaven Hill Distillery announced major plans today, saying it will construct a new, $135 million state-of-the-art distillery in its original hometown of Bardstown, Kentucky. Heaven Hill is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated distillery, but it hasn’t actually distilled in its hometown since a 1996 fire in which the onsite Bardstown distillery was destroyed. Ever since that time, Heaven Hill has been distilling from the historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, although bottling and aging of whiskey has remained in Bardstown. Still, the construction of the new facility will be a major homecoming and significant expansion of production for the brand, which is one of the bourbon scene’s most visible.
The 1996 fire was devastating for Heaven Hill, destroying the distillery, seven rickhouses, and almost 100,000 barrels of whiskey in the process. The new distillery, on the other hand, will be build on a vacant 61-acre site at 1015 Old Bloomfield Pike, off KY 245. There, yearly production will begin at roughly 10 million proof gallons per year, equal to 150,000 barrels, with the additional capacity to ramp up to a massive 450,000 annual barrels over time. The Bernheim facility in Louisville will likewise continue operating at full capacity, meaning that this will be a huge overall increase in the amount of whiskey that Heaven Hill is manufacturing. Construction will begin this spring, and the facility is intended to be operational by the end of 2024. An initial rendering can be seen above.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The company also promises that the new facility will deploy cutting edge techniques to minimize its environmental impact, with Master Distiller Conor O’Driscoll saying the following: “Bourbon making is an old art, but we are applying forward-thinking approaches to ensure we are environmentally conscious and a good neighbor. Heaven Hill’s tradition of distilling with attention to detail, quality and craftsmanship will now be even more accessible as we grow our distilling heritage in Bardstown.”