As the only son of Ed Shapira, one of the five brothers who founded Heaven Hill Distilleries following the repeal of Prohibition, Max Shapira was born into the Bourbon business in January of 1944.
After spending his childhood growing up in the shadow of his family’s distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, Max left to earn his undergraduate degree at Washington and Lee University in 1965 and an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1967.
Following graduate school, he accepted a position at what is now J.P. Morgan & Co., the Wall Street investment firm. After spending four years in corporate finance, he returned to his family’s company in 1970 as Director of Corporate Planning for Heaven Hill. Holding a variety of positions within the company, Max ultimately became president in 1996 following the death of his uncle George Shapira, the last surviving member of the five founding brothers.
Max has overseen a period of rapid expansion, through internal product development and brand acquisitions, which has taken Heaven Hill beyond its traditional roots as a Bourbon distiller to become the country’s sixth largest overall distilled spirits producer and marketer by case volume.
With such well-known brands as Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Bourbons, Heaven Hill has grown to become the nation’s largest independent family owned and operated distilled spirits company and the world’s second largest holder of ageing Bourbon. It is also the only distiller with two official stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, including the new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville.
In addition, Heaven Hill has seen its export business grow significantly with products now shipped to over 60 countries worldwide. The continuity of leadership of the Shapira family at Heaven Hill through a third generation is now assured with the ascendance of Max’s son Andy Shapira as Vice President of Marketing, daughter Kate Shapira Latts as Director of Corporate Analysis and son-in-law Allan Latts as Chief Operating Officer.