Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience
1311 Gilkey Run Rd.
Bardstown, KY 40004
Tour / Review
Updated December 2023
Please enjoy our Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience Tour Review!
About Heaven Hill Distillery
Heaven Hill Distillery has been family owned and operated since 1935, and Heaven Hill Brands is America’s largest independent family-owned & operated distilled spirits company. They produce a wide array of spirits, including some of our favorite whiskeys. Heaven Hill’s brands include: Elijah Craig bourbons and rye, Evan Williams bourbons, Pikesville Rye, Rittenhouse Rye, Old Fitzgerald bourbons, Larceny bourbons, The Parker’s Heritage Collection, William Heavenhill bourbons, Mellow Corn, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey, Henry McKenna bourbons. Other Heaven Hill bourbon brands with more limited distribution include J.T.S. Brown, J.W. Dant, T.W. Samuels & Chicken Cock to name a few.
Distillery Locations and Tours
Unlike many of the other large distilleries, visitors are not able to tour Heaven Hill’s distillery. Their main distillery, the Bernheim Distillery, is located in downtown Louisville and is home to their two 70-foot column stills. Heaven Hill is in the process of building a new large distillery in Bardstown, the Heaven Hill Springs Distillery. This state of the art distillery will allow visitors, and is planned to open late 2024.
A small artisanal distillery, which can be viewed by visitors, is located in the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, on Whiskey Row in Louisville. (We have full articles about the EWBE and their artisanal distiller, Jodie Filiatreau. You can read them here.) Heaven Hill’s Bardstown campus houses their bottling facility, which also is not open to visitors. However, visitors can enjoy the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, which is located next door.
Renovation & Expansion Of The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience
Renovation and Expansion Details
The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience has recently undergone a major renovation and expansion. The first phase was completed in late 2019 and included new tasting rooms and an expanded gift shop. The second phase competed in mid 2021 included a restaurant and bar, called The Five Brother Bar and Kitchen, as well as expanded educational experiences. The You Do Bourbon Experience, where users have the opportunity to sample 3 or more barrel strength whiskeys, and then have the opportunity to bottle their own whiskey, became fully operational in Fall 2021.
New Facilities and Offerings
The new gift shop offers a wide selection of Heaven Hill paraphernalia and whiskeys, including the occasional limited release, although these generally sell out quickly. The new tasting rooms, the Fitzgerald Tasting Room and The Founders Room, are spacious and offer an upscale atmosphere. The “Library” is also a beautiful new room which features an incredibly long wooden table which can be used for meetings or special events.
Experiences and Tastings At The Heaven Hill Visitor Experience
Experiences Center Around Tastings, Education & Rickhouses
As there is no distillery on-site, experiences at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience center around education, tastings and the rickhouses. There are four such experiences regularly offered. These are an opportunity to taste some of Heaven Hill’s whiskeys while learning a bit about bourbon and Heaven Hill’s history. Two different tasting options are offered: The Mashbill Tasting (5 samples are offered, each from a different mashbill) and the Whiskey Connoisseur Tasting (5 higher end samples are offered).
The Whiskey Connoisseur Experience
I have taken the Whiskey Connoisseur Experience a number of times. It begins with a presentation on the background of the Heaven Hill Distillery, and then moves on to an in-depth tasting of five whiskeys. Each visit, several of the whiskeys sampled have differed, and each time one or two of their more limited releases have been included. On my last visit, we learned about and sampled Henry McKenna 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, Evan Williams Master Blend, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon, Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon and the Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon Finished in Orange Curacao Barrels. It’s a great opportunity to try whiskeys that are often a little more difficult to find.
The Bottled-in-Bond Tour and Tasting
The Bottled-in-Bond Tour and Tasting is a relatively recent addition to the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience line-up. What sets the Bottled-In-Bond Tour apart from the other experiences offered at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, is that it is both a tour, and tasting, in one. Guests visit two of Heaven Hill’s rickhouses, with each very different from the other. Warehouse Y is an old school oak warehouse built in the 1970’s, and Warehouse H1 is a very open, state of the art rickhouse made of pine, built in 2021. As visitors tour each rickhouse, samples of various Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys are provided and discussed. It is a unique and very enjoyable tour.
You Do Bourbon Experience
The You Do Bourbon Experience offers a great opportunity to taste 2 different barrel strength bourbons, and a barrel strength wheat whiskey. Those whiskey are only available during the YDB experience; they can not be sampled or purchased at any other time. You then can bottle your favorite and take it home. There is currently a fourth tasting option, a malt whiskey. The fourth option however is dependent upon availability, and when available, it generally changes a few times during the year. Follow this link to read our full Heaven Hill You Do Bourbon Experience review.
More Things To Do At The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience
The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience also houses a museum of Heaven Hill family and brand history. Admission to the museum is included with the purchase of tickets to any tour or tasting. Guests can begin in the 1935 Distillery Theater where they will watch an 11 minute video highlighting the story of the Shapira family and Heaven Hill Distillery. They can then visit the galleries, which include the Heaven Hill Family Gallery, The Elijah Craig Gallery and the Larceny Gallery. There are also addition displays highlighting other areas of the Heaven Hill brand. The museum really provides a very nice self-paced in-depth dive into everything Heaven Hill.
Five Brothers Bar
Last, but not least, is Five Brothers Bar. Calling it just a bar is a bit of an understatement, because it occupies a large upstairs area of the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience Visitor Center. While it has a beautiful bar featuring craft cocktails and Heaven Hill Distillery’s spirits, there is also a large seating area, an outdoor deck and an expansive separate event place. Plans are in place to serve food in the future, and that will be a much welcome addition to an already great venue.
Barrel Storage and Rickhouses
Heaven Hill Distillery is always expanding and improving, and that includes their barrel storage. As of December 2023, they have around 70 rickhouses (where they store their barrels) spread across multiple campuses. Some of their newest rickhouses are on their Cox’s Creek and nearby Hibbs Lane campuses, and they’ve also been replacing some of the older rickhouses on their Bardstown campus.
One of their newer rickhouses is Warehouse H1, which visitors can tour during the Bottled-in-Bond Tour. It’s located right across from the Visitor Center and has a capacity of 52,000 barrels. It’s an incredible showpiece, with a beautiful large entry area that has floor-to-almost-ceiling windows on one corner. This is where barrel picks and special events happen.
Warehouse H1 also has some other cool features, like wide center and side aisles that make it easier to get to the barrels. The ricks (racks that hold the barrels) hold three rows of 25 barrels each, and the rickhouse itself is 7 stories tall! I made a short video of Heaven Hill Distillery’s Warehouse H1 when it was first built. You can check it out to take a peek inside.
One thing to note, however, is that due to legal constraints, guests are limited to just one tasting experience per day. However, that leaves plenty of time to visit the museum’s galleries, as well as to sample craft cocktails and spirits in Five Brothers Bar. There’s quite a bit to do at The Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, and it is always on my agenda when visiting Bardstown!
We hope you have enjoyed our Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience Tour Review! If you would like to learn about a bourbon that is only sold at the HHBE, then read our Five Brothers Bourbon Review!
Original Write-Up: March 2021 Revisions: December 2021, November 2022, December 2023
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