Shortly after Prohibition ended in the United States, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., was founded in Bardstown, Kentucky by the Shapira family to produce and market Bourbon and premium American whiskeys. At the time, it was as speculative a new business venture as the dot com start-ups of the 1990's -- a company founded with no brands, no available stocks of whiskey, and at the height of the Great Depression. Today, the company has overcome these initial challenges and grown to become the largest independent, family-owned producer and marketer of distilled spirits in the country. According to industry analysts, Heaven Hill is now the seventh largest spirits supplier in the United States and is the second largest holder of aging Bourbon whiskey in the world with an inventory in excess of 675,000 barrels.
Over the last two decades Heaven Hill has moved beyond its traditional focus on American whiskeys to become a broadly diversified spirits supplier. Heaven Hill's portfolio includes both domestically produced products, such as Evan Williams Bourbon and Christian Brothers Brandy, as well as a growing line of selected imported brands from around the world, such as Hpnotiq Liqueur and Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch. Brands are identified and developed to take advantage of the many varied consumer tastes that exist in the vast U.S. distilled spirits market. These brands are then sold on a national basis through an innovative and aggressive marketing and sales organization under a concept that is unique to the industry.
With an already robust business in the United States, Heaven Hill has now mounted an aggressive international expansion plan, forming partnerships with like-minded companies throughout the world. Heaven Hill has established its brands in over 40 countries throughout Europe, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Central and South America.
The company's success is based on the fact that it is large enough to market brands aggressively in the United States and throughout the world, yet small enough to care about every brand and be responsive to the needs of every customer. Heaven Hill's formula for growth begins with the commitment to support its current portfolio of brands, while continuing to diversify by adding new products through internal development, agency relationships and acquisitions. Throughout its product line, Heaven Hill offers a competitive advantage by emphasizing unique characteristics like extra aging, superior quality, innovative packaging and uncompromised craftsmanship. Whether it is a Bourbon from Kentucky's First Distiller, such as Evan Williams, or a Gin first produced by the Lord Mayor of London, such as Burnett's, Heaven Hill products enjoy heritage, history and an unexcelled reputation.
In stark contrast to the unpredictable and ever-consolidating spirits industry, Heaven Hill remains fiercely independent, guided by the steady hands of the Shapira family. The company is dedicated to establishing long-term relationships with their customers in order to build strong brands and implement consistent, effective programming. Heritage, stability and dedication define Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., a company committed to producing and marketing the highest quality spirits products worldwide.
1783 -- William Heavenhill is born "during an Indian raid which was being waged, under the cliffs near Rowan Creek" at the site of present day Heaven Hill Distilleries.
1783 -- Evan Williams sets up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio in Louisville at what is now 4th Street, thereby becoming Kentucky's First Distiller.
1789 -- Rev. Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister and farmer who had immigrated to Kentucky from Virginia, experiences a fire in his barn where he stores whiskey barrels. Putting his new whiskey in the burnt barrels anyway, Craig soon discovered that the whiskey would age better in the charred barrels, picking up color and flavor, and earning Craig the title of the "Father of Bourbon."
1837 -- Henry McKenna arrives in Kentucky from his native County Derry, Ireland. He sets up his distillery in Fairfield in 1855 where he begins producing his eponymous Bourbon, known as "Kentucky's Finest Table Whiskey."
1870 -- John E. Fitzgerald introduces his "private label" Bourbon, Old Fitzgerald, available only on rail and steamship lines and private clubs.
1934 -- Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., originally known as "Old Heavenhill Springs" distillery, is founded by a group of Bardstown-area investors and the five Shapira brothers, David, Ed, Gary, George and Mose. The company has 12 employees at the time of its founding.
1935 -- Barrel #1 is filled on December 13. Bourbon Falls is the company's first label.
1942 -- Harry Homel sells his interest in the Jim Beam Company and forms an association with the Shapira family. Heaven Hill, and many other distilled spirits production plants, are shut down during World War II and work with the government to produce alcohol for the war effort.
1946 -- Earl Beam leaves the Beam Company to succeed his cousin, Harry Beam, as Heaven Hill's Master Distiller.
1955 -- Barrel #500,000 is filled on September 30.
1957 -- Evan Williams Bourbon is introduced and becomes one of the nation's leading Bourbons and Heaven Hill's flagship brand.
1960 -- Earl Beam's son and current Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam joins the family business.
1961 -- Barrel #1,000,000 is filled on July 21.
1967 -- A new bottling facility is built with a capacity of 2.5 million cases per year.
1968 -- Barrel #1,500,000 is filled on December 5.
1971 -- Current Heaven Hill president Max L. Shapira joins the family business.
1973 -- Current Heaven Hill executive vice president Harry J. Shapira joins the family business.
1975 -- Parker Beam is named Heaven Hill Master Distiller, succeeding his father Earl.
1976 -- Barrel #2,000,000 is filled on March 24.
1982 -- Parker Beam's son and current Heaven Hill Master Distiller Craig Beam joins the family business.
1982 -- Barrel #2,500,000 is filled on June 18.
1986 -- Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon is introduced, thus becoming the first "Small Batch" Bourbon available.
1988 -- Heaven Hill becomes the licensed importing agent for Invergordon Distillers, plc. (now Whyte and Mackay, Ltd.)and begins importing Cluny Scotch Whisky.
1988 -- Barrel #3,000,000 is filled on February 18.
1989 -- Heaven Hill acquires Burnett's Gin, Henry McKenna Bourbon and Harwood Canadian Whisky.
1991 -- Heaven Hill launches a companion to Burnett's Gin: Burnett's Vodka.
1993 -- Heaven Hill acquires Copa De Oro Coffee Liqueur, Dubonnet Aperitif, Coronet VSQ Brandy, DuBouchett Cordials and Liqueurs, Philadelphia Blended Whiskey, Cabin Still Bourbon and J. W. Dant Bourbon, among others.
1993 -- Barrel #3,500,000 is filled on September 7.
1994 -- Heaven Hill becomes the licensed importing agent for Cooley Distillery, plc.of Dundalk, Ireland, and begins importing Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey.
1995 -- Heaven Hill introduces Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon, Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon, and Henry McKenna Bottled In Bond Single Barrel Bourbon. Heaven Hill acquires Two Fingers Tequila, and in conjunction with First Ireland Spirits, Ltd., of Abbyleix, Ireland introduces O'Mara's Irish Country Cream.
1996 -- George Shapira, last surviving member of the five founding brothers, passes away.
1998 -- Barrel #4,000,000 is filled on January 13.
1999 -- Heaven Hill acquires the historic Bernheim Distillery, The Christian Brothers Brandies, and the Old Fitzgerald Bourbon brand.
2000 -- Heaven Hill acquires the full line of Whaler's Flavored Rums.
2001 -- Current Heaven Hill Director of Marketing Strategy Kate Shapira Latts and her husband, Director of Corporate Planning Allan Latts, join the family business.
2002 -- Barrel #4,500,000 is filled on December 4.
2003 -- Heaven Hill acquires HPNOTIQ Liqueur
2003 -- Heaven Hill breaks ground for the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center - set to open in Fall 2004
2004 -- Heaven Hill dedicates the new Heaven Hill Trolley to
aid tourism in Bardstown and Nelson County
2004 -- Heaven Hill recieves its first prestigious Impact "Hot
Brand" award from M. Shanken Publishing for HPNOTIQ
2004 -- Heaven Hill dedicates the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center
2004 -- Wine Enthusiast names Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. Wine Star "Distiller of the Year"
2005 -- Heaven Hill introduces Bernheim Wheat Whiskey
2005 -- Heaven Hill introduces PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur