Food & Beverage

Bob Dylan to open Nashville whiskey distillery, launches Heaven's Door craft whiskey brand

Lizzy Alfs
A distillery is partnering with Dylan to distill whiskey at a 140-year-old Tennessee church and bottle it under the name Heaven's Door.
Chris Pizzello | AP

NASHVILLE — Legendary artist Bob Dylan is capitalizing on the Tennessee whiskey boom and investing in the city where he recorded four albums.

Dylan, in partnership with spirits entrepreneur and Angel's Envy Bourbon co-founder Marc Bushala, unveiled a line of craft American whiskeys this week under the name Heaven's Door. The New York Times was first to report details on the venture.

The company's distillery and "brand experience center" will open in a 140-year-old church in Nashville's SoBro neighborhood in 2019, according to the Heaven's Door website.

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"We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story," Dylan said in a statement. "I've been traveling for decades, and I've been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey. I am happy to be partnering with Marc and our entire team as we bring Heaven's Door to the public."

Dylan is just the latest in a string of celebrities cashing in on the thriving whiskey industry as demand grows for American-made spirits.

The American whiskey category, which includes bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey, is dominating growth in the overall spirits industry with revenues up 8.1% to $3.4 billion last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Tennessee is now home to more than 30 distilleries after laws were relaxed in 2009, opening the door for craft spirit makers to launch across the state.

The Heaven's Door distillery will bring a new level of activity to a historic building that has most recently served as the offices for Tuck-Hinton Architects.

In 2017, Bushala along with Darek Bell of Nashville's Corsair Distillery paid Tuck-Hinton's founding partners $6.2 million for the 0.77-acre property at 610-614 Fifth Ave. S., which included the church building that was constructed in 1871. The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

At the time of the purchase, Bushala said it was a portfolio investment and he was exploring options to open a restaurant, brewery or distillery at the site.

The first whiskey releases by Heaven's Door include a Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which has been aged for six-and-a-half years; a Double Barrel Whiskey; and a Straight Rye Whiskey. A limited release 10-year-old Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey will debut in the fall of 2018.

The whiskeys are made in collaboration with different master distillers and blenders from across the U.S. and Dylan's artwork is incorporated into the packaging.

"Rather than make a single whiskey or work with one master distiller, we thought it would be far more interesting to work with various master distillers and blenders to make whiskeys that would each have their own unique signature," Bushala said in a statement. "By working with different whiskey artisans for each new expression, the portfolio would be more diverse and eclectic."

The spirits are available initially in Tennessee, Texas, California, Florida, New York and Illinois with a suggested retail price range of $49.99 to $79.99.