Heaven Hill has had a Visitor’s Center in Bardstown for over a decade. It has always had an interesting museum, a gift shop and one of the nicest tasting rooms in the industry. The late Harry Shapira was instrumental in designing the old visitor’s center and always took great joy at seeing people come in and tour the facility. However, it was getting a little behind-the-times and they saw the need for adding a bar and restaurant, an event space and the novel ability to have visitors bottle their own whiskey. Other distilleries had added these amenities and Heaven Hill decided that they needed to up their game and to provide people with a top notch experience when they visit their Bardstown operation. The result is that they have expanded their visitor’s center to provide these features.
There is a new entrance to the center. Now, you come in at what was formerly one end of the old visitor’s center. To the right is the old visitor’s center that is now an expanded gift shop. The old tasting room is still there and the area around it is now dedicated to expanding the tasting experience. It has been split into three tasting rooms – Founder’s Tasting Room, Library Tasting Room and the Fitzgerald Tasting Room. To the left is the new exhibit area.
They have changed the exhibits focusing on their brands other than Evan Williams since they have the Evan Williams Experience and Distillery in downtown Louisville. Instead there are exhibits dealing with Shapira Family history, Elijah Craig, Larceny and Bottled-in-Bond whiskey heritage. Heaven Hill has more bonded products than any other company.
In front of you as you enter is a room dedicated to bottling your own Heaven Hill whiskey. They have a couple of options to choose from three or four Heaven Hill mash bills. Clean and fill your bottle, label it and then step into the lab for more information about the bottling process. Also in front of you as you enter is a stairway leading upstairs to the new Five Brothers Bar and Restaurant.
Once upstairs you find a well decorated bar, plenty of seating, with lots of reproduction vintage photographs and advertisements and a very attractive bar. To one side is a very nice event space that would seat about 50 people very comfortably in the private room. There are doors that lead out to a deck with a wonderful view of their warehouses — perfect for enjoying a drink in the sun on a nice summer day. It is all top quality and well designed, but I expect nothing less from Heaven Hill. Harry Shapira would have been proud of these improvements.
Heaven Hill also introduced a new Bourbon at the opening of this new facility – Five Brother’s Bourbon. This label pays homage to the Shapira brothers, David, Ed, Gary, George and Moses, who founded Heaven Hill Distillery in 1935. Their images are on the label. The Bourbon is bottled at 90 proof. The whiskey is a marriage of five different ages ranging from 5 to 9 years. As I remember from the sample given us for the toast, it has a nice citrus and vanilla forward flavor with a long finish that is oak and lingering citrus. Rosemary purchased a bottle at the gift shop and Matt and I will review this product soon.
Heaven Hill has created an even better visitor’s center for those Bourbon fans visiting Bardstown. It is very well done and is sure to be an added attraction to Nelson County’s Bourbon Tourism. A stop in Bardstown should include a trip to Heaven Hill.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller