Skip to main content

We’re Recapping Chilled 100 ELEVATE 2023, with Heaven Hill’s Bottled-in-Bond Luncheon

After returning from an outing, we entered the ballroom with tables set for tasting and lunch.

Moderator Bernie Lubbers presented a gift from Heaven Hill, a Bartender’s Backpack manufactured by Cocktail Kingdom, was at each of our seats. While we marveled at the generous gift, we noticed immediately the tab had the “Bottled-in-Bond” engraved on the leather.

Bottled-in-bond designation mandates the brands adhere to strict regulations. The spirit must be aged at least four years and be 100 proof, produced by one distillery in one season, and aged in a bonded warehouse.

This higher-proof bourbon went out of favor in the ’70s and ’80s, and the regulations were very restrictive and costly. Heaven Hill was proud to announce at our luncheon that it once again has gained the status of bottled-in-bond for its high-proof spirits. Thus assuring the person purchasing the product has the assurance of its quality. Plus, bartenders can make savory cocktails for those wanting less sweetness.

History of Heaven Hill

Ed Shapira, a department store owner, saw that Kentuckians were fond of their whiskey. By chance, an opportunity arose to invest in a distillery. He talked three friends into investing $17,500 each in a distillery named Willian Heavenhill, located on acreage in 1934.

The aging of whiskey takes time. Thus, his friends lost patience and wanted Shapira to buy them out. After a discussion with the family, the decision was made: they bought the partners out, and it was now a family-owned operation. In 1939, they released Old Heaven Hill Bottle-in-Bond whiskey.

After Ed’s retirement, his son Parker took over. Under his watch, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, and Henry McKenna brands were released.

Tragedy Struck

On November 7, 1996, a fire started in the distillery. The estimated loss was $30 million, 92,000 barrels of aged whiskey. It was feared the all-important strain of yeast used since 1935 was lost. However, entrance was gained to the 5th-floor refrigerator holding the yeast. To the joy of all, the refrigerator was still cold, and Heaven Hill was assured it could continue to maintain its brands.

No employees were dismissed, and they continued to show up for work each day. The shipping building was saved so they could send out bottles from the unaffected building. Other distilleries rallied around them, and for years, Heaven Hill was produced by other distilleries.

Sale of Bernheim

Owners of the Bernheim approached the Shapira family about buying their nearby distillery. The decision was made to purchase this fully automated and streamlined distillery. Expansion continues today, with more warehouses and additional copper fittings, which helped remove sulfurous notes from the whiskey.

Our tasting included

Mellow Corn Straight Whiskey—100 Proof, made of 80% corn and aged 4 years in used Bourbon Barrels. The only remaining national producer of Straight Corn Whiskey.

Rittenhouse Rye—100 Proof, made of 51% Rye for a distinct, spicy flavor.
Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond—100 Proof, product of one season, one distillery, bottled at 100 proof and aged at least 4 years.

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond—100 proof, one distillery, one season, and aged 7 years. Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2022.

The future for Heaven Hill is bright as it continues to expand its production facilities. The delineation of Bottle-in-Bond will surely help it stand out from other distilleries.

Today, it remains a family-owned brand that started from humble beginnings. The brand, which recovered from a tragic fire, now is the largest bourbon producer and has the second-largest whiskey inventory in the world.

The post We’re Recapping Chilled 100 ELEVATE 2023, with Heaven Hill’s Bottled-in-Bond Luncheon appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.