BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB Fox 41) -- It's the largest family owned spirits producer in the world.
Heaven Hill Distilleries is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
"We are gathered here today for the filling of the 6th millionth barrel of bourbon whiskey we have produced here at Heaven Hill Distilleries over these 75 years," said Max Shapira, president of Heaven Hill.
It was December 13th, 1935 when Heaven Hill's first barrel of Bourbon was produced. Seventy-five years ago, five brothers started a company in the middle of the depression.
"It was a risky venture," says Shapira.
Heaven Hill has been owned by the Shapira family for three generations
"It provides us with the flexibility to run our business as we think it should be run over the long-term," Shapira told Fox 41's Bill Francis. "We are indeed here for the long-term. The bourbon industry is all about thinking into the long-term and the future. We age our product years and years, so the long-term perspective is what's important to us."
The company has about 500 employees, most in Nelson County where the bottling operation and its Heritage Center Museum are located.
The museum draws about 55,000 visitors a year as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Craig Beam is Heaven Hill's master distiller, having succeeded his father Parker and his grandfather in that job.
"It's a great accomplishment to know my father had a hand in it -- my grandfather -- it goes all the way back through my family for three generations of my family," he said.
Today the company is thriving, having survived a massive fire back in 1996 which destroyed its distillery and seven warehouses. The warehouses were rebuilt, and today, two additional ones are under construction at an investment of $5 million.
"Bourbon is indeed on a roll -- not only in the United States -- but around the world," Shapira said. "We are very optimistic for the future."
Thanks go to Timothy for sending this to me to post. Cheers! Joe