One of the things I have always loved about the whiskey industry is the camaraderie. The success of the whole industry comes before any one individual.
On November 7, 1996, Heaven Hill’s production plant in Bardstown was almost completely destroyed by fire. The fire started in an aging warehouse and spread to other buildings and vehicles. 90,000 barrels of flammable bourbon were consumed. A “river of fire” flowed from the warehouses.
The next day, business at the plant resumed. The bottling line was still operational and they still had stocks that needed to fill orders. The production end was crippled, however, and there were gaps in inventory. In many other businesses, competitors would leave a struggling company to sink or swim. Kentucky distillers, instead, offered to help.
Heaven Hill received help with Rittenhouse Rye production from Brown-Forman. Early Times and Jim Beam offered their services. Parker Beam and Craig Beam were able to keep production of their product going for three years before finally finding their new home at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. Heaven Hill may never be the same, but they survived and so did their products thanks to the amazing whiskey industry that supported them.