We recently returned from an amazing trip. Nashville, various cities and towns in Kentucky, Cincinnati and Denver.
The Denver post will have to wait as I have a ton of photos from Riot Fest Denver that I want to share … But this one is about Kentucky and bourbon.
The first thing that was an eye-opener was that they distilleries are pretty far apart. It’s not like wine tasting Paso Robles, where you can hit 5+ wineries per day … Bourbon tasting allows you to hit 2 maybe 3 per day with hour long drives between them.
Day One we tasted at Four Roses. We were too late to take the tour but squeezed in a tasting and hit the merch store.
Day Two we were up and hit Buffalo Trace first. We wanted to do the hard hat tour, but it was full, so we did the regular tour … which was totally cool. We toured to grounds, saw a video, went inside warehouses and even got to see Pappy Van Winkle being bottled – It was interesting to note that everything was done by hand … the labels were placed on the bottles by hand, they were corked and foiled by hand … A machine filled about 5 bottles at a time, but other than that, it was all done by hand. If you know bourbon, you know the Pappy Van Winkle is extremely expensive and extremely difficult to find anywhere … And no, we were not allowed to purchase any of the bottles we saw being filled. I was surprised to learn that Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare are made from the same “white dog” (or moonshine), it is the taster/blender that decides whether or not the barrel is Buffalo Trace or if it has the characteristics of Eagle Rare. The entire Van Winkle line is distilled and aged there too … As were a few others. I also learned that “small batch” bourbon refers to the number of barrels used in the blending process of the bourbon, not that a small batch is made, but a small batch of barrels are blended to obtain the taste.
We quickly ducked in and out of Maker’s Mark to hand dip a couple couples in wax. I’m not a big fan of Maker’s but I HAD to had dip my own bottle.
May favorite stop of the day was Willett. It was the smallest of the distilleries we stopped at … they said the could only house 50,000 barrels of aging bourbon on their entire property while other, bigger distilleries (like Buffalo Trace) could house 50,000 barrels in one warehouse. We arrived early at Willett and had about 45 minutes to kill before the tour started … this was great, we got to walk around the grounds and take pictures … I was really drawn to their warehouses …
This is their still … Which is still in use … It looks like a giant moonshiner still … This one is about 30 feet tall.