Nina, Dave, Michael and I visited the Heaven Hill Distillery for a “Hard Hat” tour thanks to Dave who received the tickets for it from a friend whom themselves bought them in a silent auction.
This was a very interesting tour as we got to go into the distillery, barrel filling and emptying room, and bottling line to see the behind the scenes and inner workings of the facility. Despite the name of the tour, we did not have to actually wear hard hats, but we did have to wear safety glasses.
This is the barral filling line, the empty charred oak barrels get filled with the newly distilled spirits.
This is the machine that pumps the distillate into the barrels via that stainless steel tube.
After the barrel is filled, the “bung hole” is plugged with a “bung plug” this is the only part of the barrel not made of oak, it is made of poplar as it expands when wet, thus sealing the bung hole tightly to prevent leaks.
This machine forces the bung plug in tightly.
After the barrels are filled and plugged, they are ready to get loaded on the truck to take them out to the rickhouses.
This was our tour guide for the day. Funny coincidence was that before we went to Heaven Hill, we went to McDonalds down the street and had lunch and he was actually sitting across from us eating his lunch, not that we knew who he was at the time, but he did have that jacket on with the distillery name on it.
Who knew they had “Barrel Relays?”
Michael, in his happy place.
This is a little symbol of the new visitor’s center that will be built on that location.
The rickhouses in the background, they have many of them!
The redhead following us was shadowing our tour guide as she was learning to become one.
William Heavenhill 1783-1870 (His name is actually one word unlike the distillery name)
This is where they keep all the labels, they make a great many spirits for other brands.
These are barrels of spirits about to be bottled.
Dave watching Elijah Craig being bottled.
Boxes of empty bottles come down the line and are placed into the bottling line by hand by this sweet lady.
She opens the box from the bottom so she can flip it over and put the bottles in right side up.
Elijah Craig bottle
This is the bourbon filter; as the barrel is being emptied everything flows through this filter, what you see is the black charred barrel bits and a few white bung hole plugs.
This is the tool they use to quickly remove the bung hole plug, it is a kind of drill.
These barrels are filled with flavorings for the various flavored spirits like vodka and gin.
This one is apricot flavoring
Fully aged barrels coming into the facility to be emptied.
The bung hole plug extraction tool (center)
Bottle filling stating
This is where the bottles and caps get calibrated on how much pressure and travel needs to be used to insert the cork.
This is the plastic shrink wrap that gets added last.
Evan Williams being bottled
The machine that inserts the filled bottles into the boxes.
Up, up and away they go to the shipping department
One of many rickhouses
Inside one of the rickhouse, just lovely!
The rickhouse plumb bob. This indicates if the rickhouse is leaning one way or the other. The building is actually made in two halves, and if it is filled or unfilled unevenly it can start to lean and this tool lets them know if there is an imbalance.
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