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Which Kentucky Bourbon distillery has the best tour?
July 11, 2005 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Which Kentucky bourbon distillery has the best tour?

My wife and I are considering a small overnight trip to Kentucky Bourbon country in August. We have looked into some of the tours offered by a few of the distilleries. The Bourbon Heritage Center and the Woodford Reserve tours both look impressive (at least online), but we would love to get some first-hand recommendations about which tours are worthwhile. Which distillery(s) are the best to visit? Bonus points if you have tips on other good places to visit or excellent restraints or B&Bs we should go to in the area. (Bardstown, Versailles, Frankfort, etc.)
posted by Tallguy to Travel & Transportation around Kentucky (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went on the Woodford Reserve tour a few weeks ago and found it fascinating. [pix are here] Woodford is, to hear them tell it, the oldest bourbon distillery and the place that modern (in a 19th century sort of way) techniques were forged. As a small batch distillery, the output is just a tiny fraction of the big boys like Maker's, Beam, et al which adds to its charm. As an added bonus, the drive to the distillery is beautiful--twisting lanes passing amazing horse farms.
posted by donovan at 12:02 PM on July 11, 2005


I know it's not the same thing, but if you make it into the Tennessee Valley area, the (free) tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery is definitely worth the drive to Lynchburg.
posted by dontrockwobble at 12:33 PM on July 11, 2005


There is a B and B in Frankfort called The Meeting House that is very pleasant and right in downtown Frankfort (where all the antique shops, etc., are). You can find more info here: http://www.kentuckybb.com/meetinghouse.html. I know they owners and they are wonderful.
The Buffalo Trace Distillery there in Frankfort offers tours, and the Jim Beam/Old Crow plant is right there, too, but I haven't been on either tour.
posted by ohio at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2005


This may not qualify as "first-hand" but I report it directly from my father, who shares my love of bourbon. He toured Maker's Mark and found it "delightfully interesting".

So far as B&B's go, Beautiful Dreamer in Bardstown is lovely, and also next to Kurtz's restaurant, which many sources (my father and R.W. Apple included) think has some of the best fried chicken in memory.
posted by willbaude at 2:14 PM on July 11, 2005


Maker's Mark tour is terrific. And you get to see the little old ladies who hand dip each bottle in wax for a seal. Gorgeous drive too.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:43 PM on July 11, 2005


Jim Beam's tour is pretty horrible. A video at the gift shop and a little "museum" which is actually just the gift shop. I think that Heaven Hill might be a bit more personal, they looked like a much more hospitable place. Albeit, I didn't go to Heaven Hill, only Jim Beam.
posted by sled at 3:19 PM on July 11, 2005


My friend who went didn't go on a guided tour but she recommended this article for information.
posted by matildaben at 9:02 PM on July 11, 2005


I'll second the Maker's Mark tour. The ladies who are there are absolutely delightful, and the site itself is picturesque, in a factory-kind of way. The best part of the tour (for me) was getting to hand-dip my own (purchased) bottle of bourbon in their wax.

I can also recommend the Wild Turkey distillery, if for no other reason apart from the fact that the roads approaching it is spectacular, if you're approaching it from the other side of the Kentucky(?) River.

The countryside is beautiful, and worth trying to visit a few distilleries in one day, if you can time the tours right - distilleries are roughly 30-45 minutes away from each other. I went out of my way to hire a car to visit them. From what I heard (and still here), I didn't care about missing Jim Beam at all.
posted by chronic sublime at 1:18 AM on July 12, 2005


We did the Woodford Reserve Tour last year and it was great. The tasting was a little skimpy, but there are free bourbon balls (chocolate candy) to be had as well (yum!). The copper stills are impressive. I have some pictures from the tour on flickr here.

We also went to the The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown (114 North Fifth Street, Bardstown, Kentucky 40004, (502) 348-2999) which was amusing if you're into museums and historical artifacts and all that.

I really wanted to go to Maker's Mark but one member of our party was being a heel, so we had to make tracks for Nashville and dinner. I've heard that it's wonderful. Next time we want to go to Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace. Have fun!
posted by vitpil at 10:03 AM on July 13, 2005


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