Hello,
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,

CB