Heaven Hill Heir Files Lawsuit Against New Business Partners
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Lawyers, Restraining Orders and Missing Barrels: Drama Abounds as Heir to the Heaven Hill Empire Files Lawsuit Against Business Partners in New Whiskey Venture

Heaven Hill

Andrew Shapira of the Heaven Hill bourbon family has filed a lawsuit against his partners at his new venture, Fortuna Bourbon. (Photo: Heaven Hill Distillery)

Andrew Shapira, a member of the Shapira family, which is best known for owning whiskey mega-producer Heaven Hill, has filed a lawsuit against his business partners at his new venture, Fortuna Bourbon, Louisville Business Journal reported Thursday.

Pablo Moix and Peter Nevenglosky of Rare Character, Shapira’s partners in reviving Fortuna, a bourbon brand that shut down in the 1960s, were cited in the complaint, which alleged “breach of contract,” “breach of fiduciary duty” and other significant charges involving missing barrels of whiskey.

Shapira is the son of Heaven Hill Brands Executive Chairman Max Shapira. Prior to returning to the family business in the bourbon trade, he worked as an investment banker on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch. After an 11-year stint on Wall Street, Shapira returned to his family business and worked as director of corporate analysis and vice president of external development.

The complaint against Moix and Shapira states that Shapira’s financial connections and access to barrels were the primary reasons he was selected by Moix and Nevenglosky for the venture. It alleges a lack of transparency over the company’s finances when Shapira began working on Fortuna Bourbon in 2022.

In 2022, Shapira claims to have provided Rare Character Whiskey Co. with a $1 million loan that the Las Vegas-based company allegedly failed to pay in a timely manner. After Shapira obtained legal counsel, it was repaid in May.

Shapira’s complaint also alleges that Moix and Nvenglosky were attempting to cut him out of a deal with a bottler in Louisville. The complaint claimed that Moix and Nvenglosky attempted to secure barrels without Shapira’s knowledge in April. Moix and Nvenglosky made the choice to terminate the business relationship at the time, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit continues to cite that Shapira’s partners were “aided and abetted” by Lexington-based Divine Spirits LLC and White Dog Trading and Storage LLC.

Shapira claims he reached out to Divine Spirits in June, alleging that the bottler was storing the barrels. Divine Spirits claimed it was not holding the barrels after Shapira sent a cease and desist letter to the boutique bottler.

Jennifer Barbour, Andrew Shapira’s attorney, received information that a bottler, Bluegrass Bottling had indeed shipped over 20 barrels to Divine Spirits in June, and some of which were circumvented to White Dog. Eventually, the claim states that some barrels ended up at Indiana-based Cardinal Spirits as part of a deal Moix and Nvenglosky made which was in direct violation of what the circumvented barrels were meant to be used for, according to Shapira and his legal representation.

Moix and Nvenvlosky claim that Shapira’s legal efforts were meant to harm their current business relationships and prospective opportunities.

Shapira aims to go to trial with the case, seeking financial compensation and recovery of attorney’s fees and legal costs. He additionally sought a restraining order to prevent Moix and Nvenglosky from moving any whiskey barrels. Barbour filed the temporary restraining order on August 2, but the motion was dismissed.

About Fortuna Bourbon

Fortuna Bourbon was founded in the 1880s by Phil Hollenbach, a German immigrant in the late 1880s.

The brand was revitalized by the trio in September 2022 as the first project between the Rare Character whiskey brand and Shapira.

In a September 2022 news release announcing the restoration of Fortuna, Shapira said the team had been able to find some rare bottlings of Fortuna, allowing them to reproduce the flavor profile.

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Cynthia Mersten is a writer/editor for Whiskey Raiders and has worked in the Beverage Industry for eight years. She started her career in wine and spirits distribution and sold brands like Four Roses, High West and Compass Box to a variety of bars and restaurants in the city she calls home: Los Angeles. Cynthia is a lover of all things related to wine, spirits and story and holds a BA from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television. Besides writing, her favorite pastimes are photography and watching movies with her husband.