Bob Dylan’s Nashville whiskey distillery set to open in 2020

Heaven’s Door, the whiskey label owned by folk icon Bob Dylan, will soon have its own headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, complete with an event space and restaurant.

(Photo: Jean-Luc/Wikimedia Commons)

Dylan, who became famous for his criticism of capitalism and the political establishment, launched his own whiskey brand in April last year. The label has announced it will transform Nashville’s Elm Street Church into the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts, including a performance place, a whiskey library, a restaurant, the still house itself, and an art centre that houses paintings and metalwork sculptures created by Dylan, according to Rolling Stone.

The whiskey label announced plans for the distillery last week to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of Dylan’s album, Nashville Skyline.

Heaven’s Door, created in collaboration with Angel’s Envy Bourbon founder Marc Bushala, produces several spirits including including a 100-proof whiskey, a straight bourbon and a rye whiskey.

The partnership came about after Bushala noticed that Dylan has filed a trademark application of “bootleg whiskey”, and contacted the singer to make his pitch, and the rest soon followed.

Speaking to The Guardian last year, Bushala defended the singer against claims that the move amounted to “selling out”, with some branding the project a “vanity project”.

Prior to the distillery’s launch, the whiskeys have been made elsewhere in the US, a spokesperson told Rolling Stone, however, the spirits in the range are all tied to Tennessee in various stages of production either via distillation, ageing, barrel finishing or bottling.

“[Dylan] didn’t sell out. This is his brand, and it’s his idea”, said Bushala. “We just helped him do what he wanted to do. Bob does not want to be face man of the brand and he does not want the packaging to scream ‘Dylan.’”

The plans come as both sales and production of American whiskeys have started to pick up pace. Americans bought $2.08 billion (£1.7 billion) worth of whiskey last year, according to data from Nielsen; up 4.6% since 2016. Its market share has also grown by 0.43% to make up almost 35% of spirits bought in the US.

This growth has also been noticed by drinks giants. In December 2018  Diageo announced plans to build a new distillery in Kentucky in a project that will cost an estimated $130 million. The new facility will supplement the company’s American whiskey production that currently takes place at its still houses in Louisville and Shelbyville.

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