A bottle of Heaven Hill Bourbon
Heaven Hill was founded shortly after the repeal of Prohibition in 1935 by several investors, including a prominent distiller, Joseph L. Beam, and a member of the Shapira family. 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 run the company to this day.
Warehouses for aging bourbon at Heaven Hill's Bardstown headquarters. The black fungus growing near the bottom is Baudoinia compniacensis, a natural result of the maturing process.
The original name was "Old Heavenhill Springs" distillery. The company was founded as a bourbon distillery, and for most of its existence has concentrated on its flagship bourbon labels, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. However, in the past two decades the company has expanded its portfolio significantly, acquiring brands or obtaining import rights for gins, malt whiskey, vodkas, and other drinks.
On November 7, 1996, Heaven Hill's production plant was almost completely destroyed by fire. Several of the company's warehouses were destroyed, and over 90,000 gallons of alcohol lost. 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 new Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery in Louisville, while fermenting, mashing, and distilling occurs at the new distillery, aging, bottling, and shipping still occur in Bardstown.
Heaven Hill's location in the historical home of bourbon-making, coupled with its status as the only such company still under local ownership, has led it to take a role in curating and advertising bourbon tradition. In 2004, the Bourbon Heritage Center was opened on distillery grounds, featuring historical exhibits and guided tours of the plant. The company also hosts the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, and many of the company's own labels are named after famous local distillers.
As noted, Heaven Hill's traditional product has been bourbon; however, the company now oversees a broad range of labels. Below is a listing of the company's labels:
Elijah Craig Bourbon -- 18 year old single barrel has a 66% 'Angel's Share'.
Evan Williams Bourbon
Henry McKenna Bourbon
Old Fitzgerald Bourbon
Christian Brothers Brandy/Holiday Nog/Ports & Sherries
Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky
Copa De Oro Coffee Liqueur
El Conquistador Tequila
Glen Salen Pure Malt Scotch Whisky
Kentucky Deluxe Blended Whiskey
O'Mara's Irish Country Cream
PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
Pikesville Supreme Straight Rye Whiskey
Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey
Two Fingers Tequila
Whaler's Original Rum
The company's personal labels are considered low to medium-priced.
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 Whisky Portal
Categories: Bourbon whiskey
Distilleries in Kentucky
Companies based in Louisville, KentuckyHidden categories: Articles lacking reliable references from April 2008
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