There was another celebration in Bardstown, Ky., yesterday with Washington and Lee alumnus Max L. Shapira, of the Class of 1965, who operates Heaven Hill Distilleries. Back in December, we wrote about the 75th anniversary of Heaven Hill on the day that it filled its 6 millionth barrel of bourbon.
On Wednesday, Max cut the ribbon and was joined by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to roll the first 53-gallon, 500-pound barrel of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey into Rickhouse “J,” the latest addition of a nearly $5 million expansion of the company’s barrel-storage capacity. With 49 warehouses in Kentucky’s Nelson and Jefferson Counties already filled to capacity with aging whiskey, the company constructed two new rickhouses, increasing barrel storage by an additional 40,000.
Heaven Hill is the largest independent, family-owned and -operated bourbon distiller and distilled-spirits producer in the United States. The new warehouse is for its growing inventory of approximately 900,000 aging barrels, the second largest in the world. In 2010, for the first time in its history, Heaven Hill produced more barrels than anyone else in the industry.
Max represents the third generation of Shapiras in the business. His son, Andy Shapira, of the Class of 1996, joined Heaven Hill as director of sales analysis three years ago. Founded in 1934, Heaven Hill has a diversified portfolio of brands including The Christian Brothers Brandies, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys, Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin, Hpnotiq Liqueur, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Lunazul and Two Fingers Tequilas, and Dubonnet Aperitif.