Our Timeline & Story

Bourbon Heritage Center History Reference

1700

  • 1770 – First distillers arrive.
  • 1778 – Louisville is established
  • 1780 – Jacob Beam and others setup in Bardstown/Kentucky Whiskey becomes known as “bourbon”
  • 1783 – Evan Williams makes whiskey
  • 1785 – Elijah Craig leads congregation into Louisville
  • 1789 – Elijah Craig becomes known as the “Father of Bourbon”
  • 1791 – Whiskey Rebellion
  • 1792 – Kentucky is admitted to statehood/Bourbon becomes the term used for Kentucky Corn Whiskey
  • 1794 – Bourbon’s Proof and Excise Tax

1800’s

  • 1809 – Rye whiskey is produced from local grains
  • 1820 – Dr. James Crow comes to KY, begins distilling, founds sour mash process
  • 1830’s – 1860’s – Distilling becomes commercial
  • 1830 – Temperance Movement
  • 1831 – Aeneas Coffey creates “continuous” still
  • 1837 – Henry McKenna comes to the U.S., settles in Nelson County (Bardstown)
  • 1850 – New practices change the distilling business in the U.S.
  • 1852 – KY licenses site for Bernheim Distillery
  • 1860’s – 1890’s – Bourbon becomes elite
  • 1865 – Bernheim Distillery begins increasing it’s capacity
  • 1870’s – John Fitzgerald’s Bourbon becomes “Bourbon of Presidents”
  • 1893 – Anti-Saloon League is founded.

1900’s

  • 1919 – Volstead Act passed
  • 1920 – Volstead Act becomes law, begins era of Prohibition/Mock funeral for “John Barleycorn”
  • 1929 – Bernheim establishes foundation for forest preservation
  • 1933 – Distilling resumes following Prohibition/Bernheim purchases Astor and Belmont Distilleries
  • 1934 – Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. is founded
  • 1935 – Barrel #1 is filled
  • 1942 – Henry Homel sells his interest in the Jim Beam company and forms an association with the Shapira family
  • 1946 – Earl Beam leaves the Jim Beam company and succeeds his cousin Harry as Heaven Hill Master Distiller
  • 1964 – U.S. Congress protects the word “bourbon” as uniquely American
  • 1971 – Max Shapira son of Ed Shapira joins as Director of Corporate planning
  • 1976 – Harry Shapira son of David joins Shapira joins the family business
  • 1996 – The historic Bardstown Distillery burns down in fire/George Shapira, last surviving member of the five founding brothers, passes away
  • 1996 – Max Shapira becomes President of Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc.
  • 1998 — Barrel #4,000,000 is filled on January 13.
  • 1999 — Heaven Hill acquires the historic Bernheim Distillery.

2000′s

  • 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 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 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
  • 2006 — Barrel #5,500,000 is filled on 31st January
  • 2007—Andy Shapira joins the family business as Director of Sales Analysis