It was about a year ago that Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky broke ground on a $65 million investment in distillery operations and visitor center. That was the day they dug a few holes in the ground and buried a bottle of Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Bourbon, Larceny Small Batch Bourbon and Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon. Since then the sounds of hammers, saws and trucks backing up has been heard around Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center on a daily basis.
Heaven Hill Bardstown Visitor Center Phase I – Complete
Heaven Hill has announced they have completed Phase I of the $17.5 million investment in the visitor center. The original visitor center was built in 2004 at a time when bourbon tourism was just getting started. Today, the visitor center attracts more than 60,000 bourbon fans per year that are thirsty to learn how bourbon is made, the history of the Heaven Hill’s Shapira family and to pick up a bottle of America’s Native Spirits – Bourbon.
The renovated portion of the visitor center building is round like a bourbon barrel. In fact as you walk in you’ll see larger-than-life wooden barrel in the center of the room that goes from the floor nearly to the ceiling. The space is divided into three section divided by glass doors etched with Bottled-in-Bond stamps. Inside the barrel is a 270-degree video about how barrels are made and their importance to the bourbon production process.
Each of the three tasting rooms features specific Heaven Hill whiskies.
The Fitzgerald Room: Inspired by John E. Fitzgerald, the namesake of Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bourbon and inspiration behind Larceny Bourbon, The Fitzgerald Tasting Room takes guests back to the time of Fitzgerald – The Golden Era.
The Library: The Library Tasting Room perfectly represents a man said to be an educator, an inventor, a preacher, and most importantly The Father of Bourbon, Elijah Craig. This welcoming space features a 26-foot long, live edge walnut table flanked by tufted leather chairs. The room features a view of the Heaven Hill rickhouses just across the street.
The Founders Room: The third room is inspired by Heaven Hills founders, the Shapira family, and the industrial landscape of the distillery. Concrete tile floors, galvanized steel furniture, stainless steel perimeter and back bar featuring distillery-inspired stencils transport guests to the production facility. The space features a 20-foot long reclaimed wood bar made of lumber harvested from ricks at Heaven Hill’s Glencoe Warehouse.
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Heaven Hill Bardstown Visitor Center Phase II – Renderings
Phase II of the project is underway. In attendance at the opening were Solid Light Owner and President Cynthia Torp whose company designed the space and Bill Abel, Jr. owner of Abel Construction. Phase II will be a large addition on the building that will more than double the current footprint.
Interactive Visitor Experiences
A brand new feature in the future space will include “You Do Bourbon.” Visitors are invited into a classroom style tasting room where a host will guide them through a tasting of unique products. To commemorate their visit, they will have the opportunity to bottle their favorite Bourbon or whiskey from their tasting, apply the label and personalize it in the adjacent Bottling Room.
They will also experience a day in the life of a quality technician in the You Do Bourbon lab. Quality technicians ensure the consistency, quality, and integrity of all Heaven Hill products. Step into their shoes, inspecting through microscopes, gauging the proof of whiskey, and testing your sense of smell at the nosing station.
A new rooftop restaurant will feature lounge-style seating and an upscale bar. Visitors can enjoy a quick meal inspired by Kentucky & Bourbon, craft cocktails and Bourbon tastings overlooking Heaven Hill rickhouses.
There will also be more education on the Elijah Craig and Larceny brands. The Elijah Craig exhibit will include a detailed retelling of Elijah Craig’s life and how he came to be known as the Father of Bourbon. They will also learn how the char on the inside of a barrel affects the aging process and flavor development of a whiskey and understand the nuances of each product in the Elijah Craig family.
The Larceny exhibit will delve into the mysterious world of John E. Fitzgerald, a treasury agent with a very discerning palate for fine Bourbon who used his keys, committing Larceny to gain access to the best barrels, which became known as “Fitzgerald barrels.” Fitzgerald’s act of Larceny ultimately inspired the name and design of Larceny Bourbon featuring the signature skeleton key on the package design. Guests are invited to learn how to properly thieve whiskey from a barrel, interact with talking decanters detailing Fitzgerald’s ability to choose only the best barrels, and understand the key differences between Wheated Bourbon, like Larceny, and Rye Bourbon.
Of the $65 million investment $47.5 in going toward bourbon production with things like new barrel warehouses and an expanded bottling line. Phase II of the Heaven Hill Distillery visitor center project is expected to be completed by the Spring of 2021.