Whisky Advocate

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Distillery of the Year”: Heaven Hill

February 26th, 2011

Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.

We’ve honored whiskeys from Heaven Hill; we’ve honored Heaven Hill’s revered master distiller, Parker Beam. For years, we’ve talked about the integrity and service of this independent, family-owned and managed distillery (one of the last, of their age and size). They make and import other spirits but Heaven Hill remains, and always will remain, a whiskey distillery.

It’s about time we honored that. Heaven Hill has persevered through the biggest distillery fire in recent memory (including the loss of their Bardstown distilling plant), and found a new home in Louisville. Smart whiskey lovers know their reputation for delivering great value in their whiskey brands. They just celebrated their 75th anniversary in a big way, by filling their six-millionth barrel of whiskey.

They’ve been pioneers with their Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage series and the Bernheim Original wheat whiskey. Parker Beam’s skills are celebrated with the eponymous and often stupendous Parker’s Heritage Collection, particularly the tour de force that was last year’s Golden Anniversary release: a blend of bourbons from five decades. The latest Parker’s Heritage release shows that Parker Beam quickly absorbed the idea of making wheated bourbon ten years ago, and brought his years of skills to bear on it. They have been at the spearhead of the rye resurgence, maintaining availability of their value brands (Rittenhouse and Pikesville) and also rolling out an amazing trio of ultra-aged ryes.

Heaven Hill takes whiskey seriously. They deserve nothing less.

Tomorrow’s post will feature the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Be sure to check back!

18 Responses to “Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Distillery of the Year”: Heaven Hill”

  1. Andrew O'Derry says:

    It’s nice to see the boy s of the bluegrass get noticed . The finest spirits in the world come out of Kenntucky.That’s no secret nor mystery. Grandpa Jim is pround of y’all.

  2. Vince says:

    Great choice John!! I have visited HH 5 times. Their Whiskey’s and Rye’s are of the highest quality and a great value. The Parker heritage collection has to rate at if not the top (maybe BTAC) certainly right there. They have not had a miss yet (and the Golden Anniversary is one of the top 3 bourbons I have ever tasted).
    In addition, they are incredibly good people and are very deserving,

  3. Lew Bryson says:

    Well, here we go. We’re expecting some argument on this one, so I’d like to make one point right at the top: why Heaven Hill THIS year?
    True, we generally pick DOTY based on a particularly good year for a distillery: innovation, expansion, new lines of whiskey, radical improvement. Arguably, Heaven Hill has had ‘better’ years for this than 2010. That’s kind of the point; they’ve been on the short list for this award for as long as I can remember, always a bridesmaid. (We don’t publish the ‘short list’ or the runners-up, of course; we don’t see a lot of difference between that and 1st-2nd-3rd, which — at this time — we don’t want to do.) So when we talked about this year, and considered that, and saw that it was their 75th anniversary…we decided it was time to recognize Heaven Hill.
    That’s all for now; please return to your normally scheduled comments.

  4. DB says:

    Good choice, great facility, with many wonderful expressions!!

  5. sam k says:

    Great people, great products, a sincere respect for their customers, innovative, resilient…who could argue?

    All the best to our friends at Heaven Hill for this well deserved award!

    • Lew Bryson says:

      And generally great prices, Sam, don’t forget that!

      • sam k says:

        Yeah, that’s kinda what I meant by a sincere respect for their customers. I have admired their pricing restraint for quite some time. Good for them that they’ve got a number of well respected higher-end offerings these days, but still manage to put out GREAT stuff that we can all afford.

        Heaven Hill is my go-to distillery on a number of levels.

      • John Hansell says:

        Yes, they have championed the value play. That’s for sure.

  6. Larry Kass says:

    Wow, on behalf of Parker and Craig Beam, the Shapira family, and all the loyal and long serving employees of Heaven HIll Distilleries, thanks so much to John, Amy, Lew and everyone at MA for this recognition. (And of course also for the best buy award for Evan Williams Black Label!)
    As most of you know, we are an independent, family owned and operated company, the only one left among the bigger producers. Its very nice and humbling to receive such honors, we’ll just say “thanks” from the bottom of our collective hearts and get back to what we are most comfortable doing and talking about–making American Whiskey! See everyone in Chicago…

  7. Mr Manhattan says:

    Actually, to be picky, last year’s Heritage offering (for 2010) was the wheated bourbon. The Golden Anniversary, commemorating Parker Beam’s 50th year at HH, was from the year before (for 2009). We haven’t seen this year’s release yet.

    Either way, congrats to HH…. ;->


  8. Gary says:

    I am a bourbon man through and through. I love HH’s products. I will tip back a couple of fingers of EWSB 2010 in honor of their victory. Richly deserved.

  9. Ethan Smith says:

    My favorite distillery- next to the defunct Michter’s! I have more HH products on my shelves than any other distiller. I’m a huge fan of Rittenhouse, Old HH BIB, EC 18, and Cabin Still. Thanks HH for your great products and commitment to the American Whiskey drinker!

  10. Joshie says:

    Excellent choice. They do it right from top to bottom, from back to front. The model American distillery. I think tonight calls for some PHC 2010!

  11. Congratulations to Parker and Craig Beam, and everyone over at Heaven Hill for winning Distillery of the Year. This helps shine the light on the good work you all do there, and hopefully shines some on the other distilleries here on the Bourbon Trail – not to mention it makes us put our heads down and work harder too.

    Well deserved Heaven Hill, and keep the great bourbon you produce there flowing!

    • John Hansell says:

      You guys are doing a pretty damned good job too, I might add. The new Knob Creek Single Barrel is some mighty tasty whiskey!

      • sam k says:

        My God, I had a liquor rep taste me on the Knob Creek Single Barrel, and it is smooth as a silk handkerchief. You’d never guess it came roaring in at 120 proof. Can’t wait to get me one!

        Nice comment from the gracious competition…another reason I love American distillers and their whiskeys.

  12. Texas says:

    ..I realize it’s not something they advertise since Luxco distributes it, and may age and bottle it..I am not sure, but HH produces the very good Ezra Brooks, especially the Old Ezra 7 year. Sweet, but very, very good and different also. So many good whiskeys from HH for such great prices! This distillery likely single-handedly caused me to switch from Single Malt/occasional Bourbon to Bourbon/occasional Single Malt.

    A very good choice!

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