Heaven Hill Distillery announced the completion of phase one renovations to the existing Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown and introduced new renderings for phase two of new construction, including the interactive “You Do Bourbon” space. The new visitor center renovation and expansion, a $17.5 million project first announced in November 2018, is part of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment plan to expand production capacity and modernize facilities in Bardstown.
The completed space features three beautiful tasting rooms, each representing a pivotal Heaven Hill brand or story. Positioned around a larger-than-life barrel, the new tasting rooms overlook Heaven Hill’s main campus of rickhouses for spectacular views of Bourbon country. Prior to completing their designated tours, guests will join their bourbon host in the barrel for a 270-degree video about how barrels are made and their importance to the bourbon production process.
“It’s been exciting to work on this project with the Heaven Hill team,” said Solid Light Owner/President Cynthia Torp. “This is the third major visitor destination project Solid Light has created with the company—the first was the original Bourbon Heritage Center, which opened in 2004. The Bourbon Trail has blossomed dramatically since then—and so has the company. Heaven Hill needs to tell its story in a big, bold new way that showcases both the company and its brands.”
The Fitzgerald Tasting Room, inspired by John E. Fitzgerald, the namesake of Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bourbon and inspiration behind Larceny Bourbon, takes guests back to the time of Fitzgerald – The Golden Era. Features include custom corbels, hanging acoustical panels trimmed in keyhole screens, Victorian trim detail, custom wallpaper with the Larceny key, and cut crystal decanter chandeliers all reminiscent of the Golden Era style.
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. Offering a premium view of the Heaven Hill rickhouses just across the street, this welcoming space features a 26-foot long, live-edge walnut table flanked by tufted leather chairs. The cozy patterned carpet, wooden gridded windows, and library-style rolling ladder make guests feel as if they just stepped into Elijah Craig’s personal library. A custom barrel hoop art installation covers the ceiling and custom stave light fixtures above the table complete the space.
The Founders Room is inspired by 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 without even leaving Bardstown. Copper light fixtures mirroring a copper still and a 20-foot long reclaimed wood bar made of lumber harvested from ricks at Heaven Hill’s Glencoe Warehouse and finished with a waterfall edge complete the space.
In addition to these updates, the $17.5 million-dollar investment will also feature an enlarged footprint with Phase Two of the project. Exhibits in this portion of the space will tell the story of Heaven Hill Distillery since its inception in 1935, the Shapira Family, iconic brands like Elijah Craig and Larceny, and offer visitors a multi-sensory showcase of the stories behind the evolution of Kentucky Bourbon.
The Elijah Craig Exhibit will greet visitors with 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.
In the Larceny Exhibit, one enters 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 heated Bourbon and Rye Bourbon.
“You Do Bourbon” is an immersive space where guests 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. Finally, guests will experience a day in the life of a quality technician in the You Do Bourbon lab inspecting through microscopes, gauging the proof of whiskey, and testing their sense of smell at the nosing station.
The 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. Just off the restaurant, find a private event space perfect for corporate meetings, intimate dinners, and small celebrations.
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, 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.