Over the weekend I spent a day down in the Lexington area exploring the Bourbon Trail for the first time. My wife and I left Cincinnati with a couple of our friends around 8:45 and arrived at our first stop, Buffalo Trace, at 10:30 in the morning. I had tried to get us on a reservation only “hard hat” tour but it was already full for the day. Fortunately one of my brother-in-laws beat us to the distillery and put our names in for the “trace tour,” which requires no reservations and is completely free.
Warehouse C at Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace offers many brands of bourbon including but not limited to Eagle Rare, Van Winkle, Stagg Jr., Blanton’s, and W.L. Weller. These are often some of the most sought after brands around. Our tour took us around and into Warehouse C, which was build in 1881. Inside there are 24,000 barrels of bourbon aging away, each one carefully placed to create a specific brand and taste profile.
Inside Warehouse C at Buffalo Trace
We also go to see inside Blanton’s Bottling Hall, but unfortunately nothing was being bottled at the time. All of their premium bourbons are bottled here, with each bottle filled, corked, and sealed by hand. From there we were treated to samples of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare 10 Year, White Dog (unaged whiskey), their newly created Wheatley Vodka, and their super tasty Bourbon Cream.
Tasting at Woodford Reserve
The next stop on our tour was Woodford Reserve. The wait for a tour here was roughly an hour, so we opted to take part in a 20 minute presentation and tasting with one of the tour guides for $7 each. Our small group gathered on the beautiful patio of their visitors center for a quick history lesson along with questions and answers all the while enjoying samples of their regular whiskey and the Double Oaked.
Our final stop for the day was Four Roses. Built in 1910, the unique Spanish Mission-style architecture is something rarely seen in Kentucky. Here we were able to quickly get on an hour long tour through nearly the entire site for just $5 each. The distillery operate continuously, except for the summer months when the stream water used to cool their mash isn’t cool enough to do so. This was great for us as all the equipment was in full use during our visit and we got to see it all. In fact you could even dip your finger into the open air fermenters for a taste of this so-called beer.
Fermentation Area at Four Roses
After their bourbons are distilled they are trucked off this site to another site near Bardstown for aging in their single story warehouses, the only distillery using single-story for minimal temperature variations. After the tour we were treated to samples of their Yellow Label, Small Batch, and Single Barrel bourbons. Plus the rocks glass that the samples were poured were ours for the keeping!
Four Roses Distillery
Each distillery that we visited had its own unique thing that I enjoyed. I loved seeing the inside of the warehouse at Buffalo Trace. I thought that Woodford Reserve had the prettiest location. And the tour at Four Roses was very thorough and hands on. I hope to visit some of the other distilleries in the future and maybe one day I’ll have my passport complete.