Isaac Bernheim was a German immigrant, born in Schmieheim. He arrived in America in 1867 with just four dollars and began working in New York. The company he worked for went bankrupt and he was forced to make his living as an itinerant salesman. Bernheim travelled on horseback through Pennsylvania to sell goods to housewives, though this was short-lived; his horse died and he was unable to continue. Following a move to Paducah in Kentucky, Isaac Bernheim began work bookkeeping for Loeb, Bloom & Co, a spirits company.
In 1872, he opened his own spirits company with Nathan Uri and his brother, Bernard. Bernheim Brothers & Uri acquired a distillery in New Haven in 1889 and in 1896 purchased the Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery, renaming it Bernheim Distillery Co. Their first brand of whiskey was named I W Harper and they had great success. Eventually, the Schenley Distilling Corp acquired the company in 1937. Today’s Bernheim has little connection with Isaac’s original.
The new, modern construction was built in 1992 by United Distillers, a subsidiary of Guinness. Bernheim uses advanced technology, sitting close by the Brown-Forman headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. The land was acquired with two moth-eaten distilleries, the Astor distillery, the producer of Henry Clay bourbon, and the Belmont distillery. These were demolished and replaced by the new, modern building. The new Bernheim distillery began producing a handful of United Distillers’ wheat bourbons. Popular brands produced at Bernheim include I W Harper and Bernheim Original.