It’s a familiar storyline in the whiskey chronicles: one person’s ambition to craft a label of distinction takes root, their reputation grows with each successive release — as does their operation — and soon that entrepreneurial drive has earned them a devoted following that stretches far beyond their own borders.
Picture, then, the combined ambitions of five proprietors — five brothers, at that — and you get a glimpse into Heaven Hill, an operation that has become America’s largest independent family-owned-and-operated distillery.
Though the prospects were bleak in 1935, as the Great Depression ravaged the nation, the Shapira brothers saw the end of Prohibition as a time of opportunity. That long-ago hunch paid off, as Heaven Hill is now among the largest spirits suppliers in the United States and the second-largest holder of aging bourbon whiskey in the world, with an inventory that tops 1,000,000 barrels.
As it has grown, this Kentucky-based company has developed an expansive portfolio of spirits and an impressive lineup of whiskies. These include a range of coveted options from the Evan Williams bourbon line, which has been capped with Whiskey of the Year honours many times over. Add to that a selection of alternatives that deserve closer inspection, including the Pikesville Straight Rye, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and Bernheim Original Small Batch Wheat Whiskey.
Whether you’re new to whiskey or looking to expand your collection, there’s ample opportunity to find a new favourite at the Whisky Shop. As the Shapiras did, sometimes it’s just a matter of diving in and seeing where your tastes end up. You could be pleasantly surprised.
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