View Full Version : New guy from Seattle/tasting tours

03-16-2013, 21:09
Chuck here, a noob from Seattle, WA. I've been a long time gin drinker, and have enjoyed trying stuff from wherever I can find it. I have brought home bottles from duty free shops on my travels, special ordered stuff that was unavailable in the state-run liquor stores. Recently, WA has privatized liquor sales, which has resulted in a dramatic net INCREASE in prices. The legislation was largely driven by Costco (based in Seattle), and I believe the voting public was largely misinformed about the changes that were to come down the pike in the wake of the change.

Regardless, I am now an aspiring whiskey drinker. So far my bar includes: George Dickel (No. 8 and 12), ri1, Old Grand Dad, Old Weller 107, Fighting Cock, Buffalo Trace (my favorite, so far), Wild Turkey 101, JD Single Barrel and some Seagram's 7 Crown for mixing/occasional sipping. I kick myself for giving away some Maker's Mark and some Knob Creek (gifts) to my Pop before I developed a taste for bourbon, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I tried some Woodford Reserve on the flight back from Mumbai/Amsterdam/Seattle this week, and was pleasantly surprised. I know I have a TON to learn, and I have been absorbing as much as possible from the pages on SB, but there's no substitute for tasting, eh? I have a few bottles of Scotch/Irish/Canadian as well to round out the sampling. My short list for acquisition includes some Four Roses, any of the Van Winkle stuff, a larger sampling of ryes/wheaters. There is a bar/restaurant adjacent to my employer that has a nice bourbon bar, and I plan to use it as a tasting ground before making any significant, expensive purchases.

So here's my question. My Pop is also a bourbon lover, and I want to take a tasting/touring trip with him before he gets too old. Please weigh in with firsthand experience regarding the best tours to be had. I am a metal fabricator/machinery technician, so tours that allow up close and personal looks at the equipment are high on my list. Tech tours, if you will. Also, tours that are less "touristy" or faked up to seem old-timey would be better, in my estimation. I know we live in the 21st century, and that whiskey is big business, but I heard that some of the distilleries are less automated than others. Buffalo Trace and Dickel come to mind, but I could be misremembering.

I look forward to figuring out this whole "bourbon business", but I realize that a lifetime is not enough to do that. I think that what makes it so interesting is that much of the enjoyment of bourbon is subjective, and the character of the product is always in flux, due to streamlining production, dumbing down product, special releases, single barrel "lotteries", acts of God, etc. Please also feel free to point out products that I might be missing. I like lesser-known stuff, insider stuff, underrated, underestimated stuff. Bring it on!

Thanks in advance,


03-17-2013, 06:50
If you are going to make a trip from Seattle to KY to tour the distilleries (which I did plenty of times), then see them all. You can visit them all in a 3 day trip. http://kybourbontrail.com/ This web site will help you plan it out. Of note, Buffalo Trace does not participate in this group, so also include them. They also give a the most in depth tour available - a "hard Hat" tour that you can sign up for in advance.

03-17-2013, 09:26
Wadewood speaks the truth,

as for WA liquor prices. The prices have actually gone down. It's the taxes that went up making the bottles more expensive. A $25 bottle will cost you almost $33 because of the taxes. I live in Idaho and frequent WA stores for the added selection. We should have a wiskey party. But I'm not throwing any in the harbor, bourbons for drinking.

03-17-2013, 09:38
Welcome Chuck from a fellow Puget-Sounder :-)

I think you're on the right track in that you're trying before buying. I'm looking forward to your contributions here and to following your whisky journey.

as for WA liquor prices. The prices have actually gone down. It's the taxes that went up making the bottles more expensive. A $25 bottle will cost you almost $33 because of the taxes.

I disagree that the tax structure is the main culprit (I'll concede that our tax rate is high but it has always been high). Let me give you an example:

Ardbeg 10:
> State-run Retail => $39.11 + 10.84 (tax) = $49.95 total [~27.7% effective tax rate]
> Total Wine => $46.99 + 20.5% tax ($9.63) + $2.83 (750ml pro-rated Liter Tax) = $59.45 [~26.5% effective tax rate]

I can send you a copy of the spreadsheet from the old state website (3/2012) if you'd like.

As you can see, the effective tax rate actually went down in this case (yes, I understand the Liter tax has a greater effect the lower the retail price of the bottle is, but I typically buy in this price range so this is where the rubber meets the road for me).

What I see (as an industry outsider/regular consumer) is a ~$10 price increase from the store in the area with the greatest purchasing power and hence should be able to offer the best prices. Where did that extra ~$10 come from? Certainly not from taxes.

03-17-2013, 17:41
Chuck, welcome to aboard - good to see a fellow Seattle member.

03-17-2013, 17:51
Welcome, from a former Seattle-ite, who misses the PNW enormously.

03-18-2013, 05:58
Thanks for the welcome, guys. I will look into KY Bourbon Trail. Hopefully Dad will be into that.

Do you guys ever get together in 3 dimensions, say at a bar or something?:grin: If so, count me in. I work in Puyallup, and The Powerhouse (just down the street) has a pretty decent bourbon bar upstairs, at least to my untrained eye. I saw some variety of Van Winkle, and this is where I first sampled Buffalo Trace. I plan to spend a bit more time there, as the happy hour prices are decent. Off to work now, so more later.


03-18-2013, 06:18
As Wade noted, consider visiting all of the distilleries. Distilleries shut down during the summer; therefore, try avoiding those periods. Although they are not distilling, they continue to conduct tours.

03-18-2013, 11:16
Hey Chuck, welcome aboard. Distillery tours are fun but not educational beyond a certain level. Their purpose is to market the company's products so there is some entrainment value as well. For a technical tour I would visit the micros.