BARDSTOWN, Ky. (June 6, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and local officials in Nelson County joined leaders from Heaven Hill Distillery to break ground on the company’s new $135 million, state-of-the-art distillery in Bardstown, which will create 38 full-time jobs for Kentucky residents.
“This is a significant day for Heaven Hill and Kentucky. The return of distilling operations to Nelson County is a return to the company’s roots, and the investment highlights the continued growth of bourbon and spirits in the commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am incredibly happy for the residents of Bardstown and the surrounding area, and I want to thank the leaders at Heaven Hill for this commitment to create new job opportunities and build the company’s presence in our state.”
The 211,000-square-foot operation will be located on 61 acres at 1015 Old Bloomfield Pike in Bardstown. Once operational, company leaders anticipate production capacity of 10 million proof gallons annually, or 150,000 barrels, with potential to reach 30 million proof gallons in the future.
The project returns distilling of Heaven Hill whiskey to Nelson County for the first time since 1996, when a major fire resulted in a total loss of the company’s distillery, seven rickhouses and nearly 100,000 barrels of whiskey. The new facility will be named Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in honor of the previous Bardstown operation. Since 1999, Heaven Hill bourbon and spirits have been distilled at the historic Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, while bottling, aging and other functions remained in Nelson County. The Louisville operation will continue to operate at full capacity upon completion of the new distillery, which is expected to open in 2024.
The project comes a year after Gov. Beshear and company leadership celebrated the grand opening of the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown. The visitor center renovation and expansion included a $19 million investment in Kentucky’s bourbon and tourism industries, creating 13 new job opportunities. The project was part of a multiyear $125 million investment that also included expanded production capacity in Nelson County.
“Heaven Hill is bullish on the success of the commonwealth’s signature industry and growth in the heart of the bourbon capital of the world,” said Max L. Shapira, Heaven Hill president. “Our new distillery will honor our long-time Bardstown roots while applying state-of-the-art equipment and processes to produce the highest quality American whiskey and build upon our meaningful partnership with Bardstown and Kentucky.”
Headquartered in Bardstown since 1935, Heaven Hill maintains over 1.9 million barrels of whiskey aging in more than 60 warehouses throughout Nelson and Jefferson counties. To date, the family-owned company has filled more than 9.5 million barrels. Recognizable Heaven Hill American whiskey brands include Elijah Craig Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon, Evan Williams Bourbon, Pikesville Rye Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Whisky and Parker’s Heritage Collection.
The new distillery contributes to Heaven Hill’s 2030 Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which includes reduced carbon emissions, increased water efficiency, reduced waste and conservation of resources. The new operation will minimize water use, preserve existing vegetation, include installation of a wastewater pretreatment system and feature energy creation and recovery.
Kentucky’s bourbon sector is a nearly $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky, generating more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.23 billion. Since the start of the Beshear administration, more than 50 bourbon and spirits-related announcements have contributed to over $1.1 billion in new investments and more than 900 jobs for Kentucky residents. Gov. Beshear also worked with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to remove harmful bourbon tariffs on trade with the United Kingdom and European Union, ensuring continuing strength in the export market.
Nelson County Judge/Executive Dean Watts noted the company’s longstanding presence in the community.
“Nelson County has a rich history working with Heaven Hill Distillery as they have grown to be such a great asset to our community,” Judge Watts said. “We are so excited that the Shapira Family chose to put their new distillery in Nelson County. This is a great day for Nelson County.”
Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton expressed gratitude for Heaven Hill’s commitment.
“Heaven Hill Distillery is an iconic Bardstown company. We greatly appreciate this significant investment and their trust and confidence in our community to support and execute this expansion,” Mayor Heaton said.
Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, spoke on the far-reaching impact of the project.
“We are thrilled the Shapira family decided to expand their already deep roots in Bardstown with the building of their new state-of-the-art distillery here,” Huston said. “This multimillion-dollar investment will make a significant impact on not just the community, but on the hundreds of Heaven Hill employees and their families.”
Heaven Hill’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
In recent months, the Beshear administration announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. And in April, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings upgrading Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy.
For April 2022, the state budget director reported the highest-ever monthly General Fund receipts of $1.84 billion. That is up 34.9% over last April’s collections, bringing Kentucky’s year-to-date growth rate to 16.4%.
And Site Selection magazine recently placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in March preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $1.25 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of over $135.4 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 38 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $33.62 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Heaven Hill for up to $250,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on Heaven Hill, visit HeavenHillDistillery.com.
A detailed community profile for Nelson County can be viewed here.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at facebook.com/CEDkygov, on Twitter @CEDkygov, Instagram @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.