All about making whisky
Opened in 2004, the Heaven Hill visitors centre, a veritable museum of whiskey, is located in Bardstown, the world capital of bourbon. Nonetheless, all of this distillery’s whiskeys are produced in Louisville at another distillery known as Bernheim. This deserves a little explanation.
During the night of 7 November 1996, Heaven Hill was the victim of a terrible fire. In just a few hours almost 2% of Kentucky’s bourbon reserves went up in smoke. In total, seven warehouses were destroyed, which is to say 90,000 casks and almost 30 million litres of maturing bourbon. It was a complete disaster. However, this didn’t discourage the current owner, Max Shapira, who, in the spring of 1999, bought the modern Bernheim distillery from Diageo, which was inaugurated in 1992.
Founded by the Shapira brothers at the end of the Prohibition period, Heaven Hill rose to fame in 1957 thanks to the release of a bourbon that paid tribute to Kentucky’s first distiller, Evan Williams. Since then, Heaven Hill has created labels in memory of all of the great celebrities of whiskey, such as Elijah Craig, J.T.S Brown and Henry McKenna.
In 2005, the distillery developed the first wheat whiskey produced from 51% wheat. Its name: Bernheim. This other star of the whiskey world led to the creation, at the end of the 19th century, of one of the United States’ most famous brands of bourbon, I.W. Harper.
Though whiskey remains an important source of income for this family business - Heaven Hill is today the top independent distillery in the United States and the second largest producer behind Jim Beam - it was thanks to another drink that Max Shapira recently hit the jack pot: Hpnotiq, a blue liqueur made from cognac, vodka and exotic fruit.