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Heaven Hill Distillery. Bardstown, KY © 2018
Think Wisely. Drink Wisely. ®

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The Distillation Process

From grain to glass, discover what it takes to make American whiskey.


Step 1: The Grain


We work with the same local farms we’ve had relationships with for decades to select corn, malted barley, rye and wheat, which are then milled and combined according to our recipe, also known as a "mashbill". These ingredients eventually become the whiskey you know and enjoy.


Step 2: The Sour Mash

The milled grains are cooked in small, 35 barrel batches with Kentucky limestone water, in a specified order and at exact temperatures, to create a sweet, porridge-like “mash”. A portion of the prior day's distillate is then added to both the mash cooker and the fermenter. This helps maintain continuity of flavor that’s unique to each of our whiskeys.
Explore the styles of american Whiskey »


Step 3: The Fermentation

Our proprietary yeast strain, a family recipe that’s been passed down for seven generations and used since our founding in 1935, is added to the cooked mash, where the sugars naturally convert into alcohol. Over several days, the fermenting mash bubbles violently, creating a thick liquid called, "Distiller's Beer."


Step 4: The Distillation

In our 70-foot-tall column stills, the Distiller's Beer drips slowly down a series of perforated copper plates while steam blasts up from the bottom. The alcohol vapors rise to the tops, where they're captured and then condensed.


Step 5: The Aging Process

At 140 Proof the alcohol vapors rise up into the head of the still where they're drawn off into an arm and then to a coil. The coil is submerged in cool water, which liquefies the alcohol again. The result is the purified, raw whiskey, also known as "white dog" or "new make"


Step 6: The Whiskey


Next up is the waiting game. The whiskey is transferred to a barrel and sealed with a "bung." We source all of our barrels from family-owned cooperages we've worked with for generations. The newly filled barrels are then placed in open-rick warehouses to naturally age. It's during the aging process, when the barrels experience the hot summers and cold winters of Kentucky, that the whiskey acquires its distinctive color, aroma and taste, imparted by the charred oak barrel.


Step 7: Aging

The barrels are aged anywhere from 4 to 23+ years in our Kentucky rickhouses and then expertly combined to create the signature taste profiles of each and every brand. Each batch is created under the attention of our Master Distillers, who ensure quality and consistency.

Our Rickhouses

A Complete Collection of America’s whiskeys

Did you know that Heaven Hill Distillery is the only heritage distiller that features every major category of American whiskey? From multiple mashbills to storied brands, from Small Batch specialties to limited-edition collections, our Master Distillers keep the American whiskey-making tradition alive for all to enjoy.

American Whiskey Styles


Corn Whiskey

The requirements for Corn whiskey, distilled from a mash of at least 80% corn, are unlike any other straight whiskey. While Corn whiskeys do not have an age requirement, if aged they must be put in a used Bourbon barrel, rather than a new charred oak barrel. Heaven Hill Distillery is the sole remaining national producer of this unique whiskey.

80% Corn 12% Malted Barley 8% Rye

Bourbon Fact Or Fiction

There are several rules for Bourbon. So many, that it’s easy to get them confused. Join our Master Distiller, Denny Potter, as he explains some of the most common misconceptions of Bourbon. Help determine whether each statement about Bourbon is either fact or fiction.

Watch: Part One | Part Two

American Whiskey Types

bottle image


To be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond, a whiskey must be the product of one distillery and distilled during just one distillation season, which can run from January-June or July-December. These whiskeys must be aged for at least four years, and bottled at exactly 100 Proof, for a strong, signature flavor. Additionally, the D.S.P., or Distilled Spirits Plant numbers of both the production and bottling facilities must be stated on the label.

Discover Our American Whiskey


You've heard of Evan, Elijah, and Larceny. Now discover our entire American whiskey portfolio.