heavens door distillery

Fifty Years After Releasing ‘Nashville Skyline’, Bob Dylan’s Whiskey Brand Will Become a Part of It

We Break Ground in September in SoBro during Bourbon Heritage Month.

Fifty years ago this month, Bob Dylan released “Nashville Skyline,” a critically acclaimed upbeat country crooner of an album that Rolling Stone dubbed “the artistically impossible.” He helped to pave the way for countless other folk and rock artists to record in Music City, ultimately changing the course of the city forever.

Nashville Skyline was actually the third album that Dylan recorded in Nashville, though it was his first and most ‘country’ record. It was a bold stylistical foray. At the same time, the shift was incredibly natural, because of the musical bonds he forged with the talented studio musicians who played on ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and ‘John Wesley Harding.’

Given that history, it feels almost pre-ordained that Nashville will soon be home to the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Brand Experience Center. All of our whiskeys have some tie to Tennessee and Bob’s deep connection to Nashville made it our natural home in the Volunteer State. Each expression of our whiskey has a direct tie to Tennessee, in distillation, aging, barrel finishing or bottling. 

We are scheduled to break ground during Bourbon Heritage Month in September in the city’s downtown SoBro neighborhood, though ‘break ground’ may be a bit of a misnomer. In Bob’s spirit of reinvention and re-discovery, we will be thoughtfully transforming a 160-year-old former church that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our distillery visitors will be easy walking distance from the Country Music Hall of Fame, which recently paid tribute to Dylan’s contributions to the city’s musical life in Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City. The exhibit, which catalogued the transformative late-60s-early-70s period, was supposed to be open for one year but was so popular it ended up being held over for three. (It closed in February of this year.)

“Dylan’s embrace of Nashville and its musicians—the Nashville Cats—inspired many other artists, among them Neil Young, Joan Baez, Paul McCartney and Leonard Cohen, to follow him to Music City,” the museum noted in its exhibit announcement.

The Country Music Hall of Fame commissioned several concerts in connection with the exhibit, and during one of them Nashville singer-songwriter Ketch Secor said this: 

“[Bob Dylan] has informed every songwriter in our city. He is at the heart of what Nashville is all about.”

In ‘The Lasting Impact of Bob Dylan’s ‘Nashville Skyline,’ writer Thomas Mooney described Bob as “a shape-shifting chameleon who never painted himself into a perceived corner or let anyone typecast him as a certain kind of artist.”

We are grateful to have Bob’s artistic sensibilities as a partner and co-creator of our whiskeys. We look forward to meeting the public in a city that he helped shape, and to calling Nashville our home.