Interview with Max Shapira, May 24, 2016

Project: Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project

  • Description
  • Play Interview
  • Rights & Request
  • Citation

Interview Summary

Max Shapira was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He grew up in Bardstown, Kentucky, where his family's company, Heaven Hill Brands, is located. Shapira lived in Bardstown until he was a junior in high school when he moved to Louisville. His grandparents had five sons who came of age in the mid-1920's and opened multiple general stores in various small towns across Kentucky. One of the stores was operated by his father, Ed Shapira and located in Bardstown. Ed was one of the founders of Old Heaven Hill Distillery, the Shapira family's original bourbon business. In the forties, most of Shapira's family moved to Louisville where an office on 528 Main Street served as the headquarters and warehouse for the general stores. Today that building houses their Evan William Bourbon Experience business. Max Shapira describes how his family kept a very kosher home growing up. Shapira notes that although the Bardstown community was not Jewish, this diversity did not change his mentality about his faith or others and that, if anything, it broadened it. He describes his parent's relationship with Judaism and how he met his wife, Ellen Hirsch, through his younger sister, Ellen Shapira. He details the Jewish influences in Heaven Hill business practices, particularly conducting business ethically by always "doing the right thing." He explains the Jewish heritage of Heaven Hill is subtly illustrated in the design of the Bourbon Heritage Center, part of Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Max Shapira then discusses the bourbon industry more specifically, touching on women's roles as well as the craft of distilling and its integral role in American culture. In his closing remarks, Max Shapira emphasizes the importance of personal relationship-building within the bourbon industry and proclaims his biggest accomplishment at Heaven Hill to be involving the next generation and his family in this industry to ensure a prosperous future.

Interview Accession

2016oh154_jk026

Interviewee Name

Max Shapira

Interviewer Name

Janice W. Fernheimer

Interview Date

2016-05-24

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Restriction

No Restrictions

Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Add this interview to your cart in order to begin the process of requesting access to a copy of and/or permission to reproduce interview(s). 


Shapira, Max Interview by Janice W. Fernheimer. 24 May. 2016. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Shapira, M. (2016, May 24). Interview by J. W. Fernheimer. Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Shapira, Max, interview by Janice W. Fernheimer. May 24, 2016, Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt731z41v804


Share