BARDSTOWN, Ky. — Heaven Hill Distillery announced on Friday plans for a renovation, expansion and rebrand of the current Bourbon Heritage Center-Heaven Hill’s visitor experience in Bardstown, Ky. since 2004.
The new visitor center renovation and expansion, part of a multi-year $65 million investment plan to expand production capacity in Bardstown, cements Heaven Hill’s commitment to Kentucky’s signature industry through growth and expansion in many areas from distillation and warehousing, to manufacturing and tourism. Expansion details were announced in partnership with Solid Light, Abel Construction and Kentucky Tourism officials.
With an investment of $17.5 million and an enlarged footprint, the new visitor center in Bardstown will focus on the story of Heaven Hill Distillery since its inception in 1935, the Shapira Family, and iconic brands within the portfolio. Visitors will experience a multi-sensory showcase of the stories behind the evolution of Kentucky Bourbon, rooted in key periods in America’s history. From influential names like Elijah Craig and John E. Fitzgerald, to the barrel rollers and distillery workers, the history will be brought to life through one-of-a-kind exhibits and tours.
Unique to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the visitor center will offer a multitude of signature experiences:
• The Heaven Hill Distillery American Whiskey portfolio will be on full display through the widest variety of whiskey tastings and educational seminars on the market.
• Interactive, educational spaces dedicated to Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Larceny Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, two brands with unique histories that played an integral role shaping Kentucky Bourbon.
• A “You Do Bourbon” immersive space, where guests will be able to participate in hands-on laboratory learning experiences and bottle their own Bourbon.
• A new rooftop bar will feature cocktails and bourbon tastings, which visitors can enjoy overlooking Heaven Hill rickhouses.
• An enhanced retail space will offer branded merchandise, specialty food products, locally-crafted gifts, and several 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 Heaven Hill President Max Shapira. “By honoring historic figures and recognizing the people who are the fabric of this industry, nurturing the dream held by my father and his brothers more than 80 years ago, and educating consumers to enjoy bourbon into the next generation, Heaven Hill is able to bring history to life in an exciting, modern way relevant to today’s consumer.”
In addition to the visitor center expansion, Heaven Hill will also be adding production capacity with new barrel warehousing, bottling line and equipment upgrades, and increased holdings of aging Bourbon Whiskey, amounting to a total of $47.5 million. Since 2010, Heaven Hill has invested over $100 million into the future of Kentucky bourbon primarily through distillery expansion, warehouse construction, and tourism.
This newest visitor center expansion will play a vital role in expanding tourism, not only in Bardstown, but across the Kentucky Bourbon Trail through Heaven Hill’s two historically driven stops. When it opened in 2004, the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center was one of the first visitor centers on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and has played an instrumental role in establishing Kentucky as a top tourist destination. The Bourbon Heritage Center is a multiple past winner of Whisky Magazine’s “Visitor Attraction of the Year” award at the magazine’s annual “Icons of Whisky” Awards and is consistently ranked as one of the top tours in the Bardstown area, drawing 60,000 visitors per year. In Louisville, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is dedicated to the story of Kentucky’s First Distiller and the world’s 2nd largest Bourbon brand, Evan Williams. Hosting 100,000 visitors annually, it was the first distillery back on Whiskey Row in Downtown Louisville.
“Our shared commitment to excellence and passion for our home state of Kentucky and Bourbon make working with the Shapira family on the Heaven Hill Distillery Visitor Center an incredible opportunity to convey the history and craft of Bourbon with visitors,” said Solid Light Owner/President Cynthia Torp. “When it opens, guests will have a truly comprehensive and immersive experience that tells the Heaven Hill story, the stories of Elijah Craig and Larceny, and immerses them both in the history of the not only Kentucky bourbon, but the larger history of Bourbon in America.”
Contingent upon receiving tourism incentives, Heaven Hill Distillery’s expanded Bardstown visitor center will generate a significant amount of state and local tax revenue, as well as creating over 20 new full time and part time positions.