Heaven’s Door Whiskey Is Building the High Church of Bourbon

This article was produced in partnership with Heaven’s Door

Of all the celebrity whiskeys that have buoyed to the tops of our social media feeds and newsletters, few have made a mark quite like Heaven’s Door. Backed by Bob Dylan, with bottles that sport his steampunk metalwork designs, Heaven’s Door has established itself as a serious whiskey in its own right—beyond the star-powered affiliation.

Heaven’s Door offers a year-round trio: Straight Bourbon, Straight Rye, and Double Barrel whiskey. All are solid everyday sippers with unique flavor profiles to suit just about any palate. The brand also periodically releases special editions, like its new Decade Series #01, highlighting whiskeys aged at least 10 years, and the annual Bootleg Series, which features a unique, cask-finished whiskey bottled at barrel proof. Past releases have included mizunara oak, Jamaican pot still rum, and Vino de Naranja cask finishes, all presented in ceramic bottles showcasing an original Dylan painting.

For many brands, all this would be enough. They’d rest on their laurels and coast along. Not Heaven’s Door. The company has revealed big plans for its future, which will include not one but two Kentucky locations where fans can interact more intimately with whiskey, music, and more.

Collaboration Is Key

One of the biggest strengths of Heaven’s Door is its collaborative mindset. It’s not just Dylan who influences the products, but a host of master blenders and distillers.

“We have some very talented people in-house, but our goal is to collaborate with people who are doing things that are different or interesting, so you don’t have a singular palate, if you will,” explains CEO Marc Bushala. “You get a more broad depth of character when you’re working with other people and different taste profiles.”

Bushala reveals that for the past five years, Heaven’s Door has been working with multiple distilleries to lay down new-make spirits with its own custom mashbills. The first runs of those partnerships will be mature and go into bottles in 2023, giving fans a deeper taste of the Heaven’s Door house style.

And a new distillery home will build on that.

“We’ve been working on finding our own distillery for some time,” Bushala says, noting that the company has acquired a distillery in Pleasureville, KY, that’s been producing for three and a half years. “It’s on the Bourbon Trail between Lexington and Louisville. It’s absolutely stunning: 160 acres of rolling hills…Six Mile Creek winds through the property, beautiful terrain.”

The distillery buildings include replica 18th-century barns and a grist mill, and the site is powered by geothermal energy.

“This is one of the most green distilleries anywhere in the country,” Bushala explains. “We’re buying additional farmland where we’ll have our own herd of buffalo, so the spent grains, when we’re done, can feed our own herd. It’s very sustainable and renewable.”

He adds that the land is also being planted with heirloom grains, which will go right into the whiskey. “It’s truly grain to glass.”

Trio of whiskey bottles on table in front of fireplace
Courtesy Image

Two Brand Homes

Bushala acknowledges that the move to a distillery is “a little bit of a pivot,” but is quick to reassure the collaborations that have powered Heaven’s Door thus far aren’t going anywhere—it’s simply going to make it easier for fans to interact. “Having a physical brand home is wonderful because people are very curious and when they become passionate about a brand, visiting the distillery is just part of that journey,” he says.

But if Pleasureville is too far for folks to get to, not to worry: Heaven’s Door is opening a second location in the heart of Louisville in the NuLu district. Appropriately, the mixed-use venue, coined The Last Refuge, is a former church. Once renovated, it will offer a brand experience that incorporates art, music, and way more whiskey than you might expect

The Last Refuge—slated to open in May of 2023—will play host to private events and live performances, as well as house a vinyl record store and listening room, a restaurant and bar, and a 10,000-square-foot art gallery.

“It’ll have some of Dylan’s visual artwork—his paintings and sculptures—on display,” Bushala notes. “And we’ll curate exhibits by other artists, particularly local artists from Kentucky.”

Oh, and one hell of a whiskey bar that’ll house upward of 1,500 American whiskies.

“We hope to have the largest selection of American whiskey anywhere, rather than just feature our own,” Bushala says. “This is really going to be the high church of bourbon. We’re out procuring every unique, rare bottle we can.”

Look for both the Heaven’s Door Distillery and the Louisville experience—whose name will be revealed soon—to open in June 2023. And if you can’t wait till then, pick up a bottle or two of Heaven’s Door whiskey to tide you over.

While you’re at it, mix together some holiday cocktails with the brand’s core line of spirits, courtesy of Heaven’s Door brand ambassador and mixologist James Duich.

Best Holiday Cocktails to Make With Heaven’s Door Whiskey

1. Fancy Free

A riff on an old fashioned, the Fancy Free uses maraschino cherry liqueur instead of simple syrup. The rye in the Straight Bourbon Whiskey‘s mashbill adds beautifully to the flavor palate and blends well with the sweet and bitter elements of the cocktail. It’s also wonderfully aromatic thanks to citrus bitters.

Servings: 1

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Gently add ice.
  3. Stir with a bar spoon without agitating the ice too much (not too much dilution or chipped ice).
  4. Add large sphere or square ice cube to cocktail glass. Strain cocktail into cocktail glass.
  5. Express orange peel over cocktail by pinching and twisting, then add to cocktail.

2. Diamondback Lounge

It’s finished in French oak toasted cigar barrels, which lends a nice herbaceousness and balances the spiciness of American rye. This is a spirit-forward cocktail with a slight twist on the classic. Generally, Diamondback Lounge features yellow Chartreuse. Since it’s in short supply in the States, Heaven’s Door’s variation uses green Chartreuse. It’s slightly higher in ABV, but the botanicals are largely the same.

Servings: 1

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Gently add ice.
  3. Stir with a bar spoon without agitating the ice too much (not too much dilution or chipped ice).
  4. Strain cocktail into chilled coupe glass.
  5. Garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherry pierced through its center with a cocktail pick to balance over the coupe’s edge.

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