Jump to content
Clueby

My first trip to distilleries

Recommended Posts

Clueby

Long post...Been a bourbon fan a long time but had never made the trip to any distilleries. Mrs. Clueby and Icame over this weekend for my birthday..which is today. We drove straight to Bardstown yesterday but didn't get there till the early afternoon. I really just wanted to hit the gift shops for special bottles and look around. 

Stopped at HH and Willett. Maybe it's the rush of the holiday season but both store's employees were pretty rude and condescending when I asked if they had anything special release. HH had WHH12 and ECBP only and passed on both of those. Willett had all their brands but the only WFE branded bottles was their 4 Year Rye. Picked up a bottle for a friend. When I asked if there were any WFE bourbons they laughed at me.  Wasn't a great start to my first Motherland trip.

Drove around Bardstown a bit and stopped at Toddy's for a laugh.  Tried to stop at the 4R bottling plant gift shop.  Google said it closed at 4 but it closed at 3 so we missed.

Went to the Bernheim Forest and hiked around looking at the "Giants". Very cool.

Came back to Louisville and hit Westport Whiskey and Wine at the suggestion of an SB'r. They have a tasting room with great allocated pour pricing. The 2019 4RSmBLE is outstanding! Had to have a Birthday Bourbon..well...because.  Hit a TW for some KY only bottles to take home.

Today did a Mint Julep tour. First stop was at SW for a tasting only. Awesome historical place. Tasting was meh...Bulleitt bourbon and rye, IW Harper, and Blade and Bow.

On to Woodford. Beautiful place in a beautiful setting. Bourbon production is actually shut down but was still a good tour. Tasting was regular WR, DO, and their rye. Bought a bottle of their wheat whiskey.

On to BT. Its HUGE. Gift shop only had regular BT and Bourbon Cream.

But..the highlight of the trip...our tour guide was Freddie!! He was awesome in every way and really made it personal.  Since we had already seen the distilling process at WR he wanted to show us things we don't always see. Went to the branding room. He talked a lot about the barrels. Shared stories about his father, etc. We went into Warehouse P, and into "The Last Drop" section and the cold storage experimental section.  There were barrels there from the early 90s. (No pics in there)

We did a tasting led by Freddie of vodka, BT, ER, and Bourbon Cream..ending up with it mixed with his namesake rootbeer.

We went into the Blanton's bottling house and Freddie gave me a couple Blanton's stoppers straight from the line because someone had pointed out it was my birthday.  Was a great day and totally made up for yesterday's distillery visits.

We will be back.

20191228_170537.jpg

20191228_161743.jpg

  • I like it 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fishnbowljoe

So, see you in April?  ;)

 

Biba! Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smokinjoe

Your disappointments with "special" bottle availability in 

the gift shops is the reason I hardly ever even look there, and simply enjoy the tour experiences.  That's what it's all about, really.  I'll buy the crap out of t-shirts, coasters, hats, and all kinds of other swag, but only seldomly pick up any bottles.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Clueby
On 12/30/2019 at 9:28 PM, smokinjoe said:

Your disappointments with "special" bottle availability in 

the gift shops is the reason I hardly ever even look there, and simply enjoy the tour experiences.  That's what it's all about, really.  I'll buy the crap out of t-shirts, coasters, hats, and all kinds of other swag, but only seldomly pick up any bottles.  

I don't know that I was that disappointed that they didn't have any "special" bottles, but more in how they treated me when I asked. I was HOPING for an OFBIB but wasn't surprised I didn't find any. I was also kinda surprised that there wasn't anything else in the BHC/gift shop besides the gift shop that you could see without taking a tour. I thought there were history exhibits, etc. that you could just view.  I did get a bit of swag. The wife collects pins.

I really only went to Willett for a friend that wanted a 4 year rye (I've already got a few.) I doubt I would have actually purchased a WFE bourbon had there been any but again, it was their reaction when I asked. Willett seemed very "hipster-ish".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flahute
On 1/3/2020 at 10:33 AM, Clueby said:

I don't know that I was that disappointed that they didn't have any "special" bottles, but more in how they treated me when I asked. I was HOPING for an OFBIB but wasn't surprised I didn't find any. I was also kinda surprised that there wasn't anything else in the BHC/gift shop besides the gift shop that you could see without taking a tour. I thought there were history exhibits, etc. that you could just view.  I did get a bit of swag. The wife collects pins.

I really only went to Willett for a friend that wanted a 4 year rye (I've already got a few.) I doubt I would have actually purchased a WFE bourbon had there been any but again, it was their reaction when I asked. Willett seemed very "hipster-ish".

The BHC is currently under renovation/expansion construction so the history exhibit is put away because it used to exist in what is now being used for the t-shirts and swag which is also temporary.

 

As for Willett, welp - welcome to taterville. They get asked constantly about special bourbon so they're all kind of jaded. I wish they wouldn't have laughed, but I get it. They get the delivery truck chaser types in there every day hoping to score a WFE bottle that they will flip before leaving the parking lot. Willett is tired of it as well as they are tired of the people camping out and storming the gift shop so they've changed their model to bring more sanity to the day to day operation of a visitor experience that outgrew the gift shop expansion before it was even complete. (Another expansion is already in the planning stages.)

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CUfan99
On 12/28/2019 at 8:09 PM, Clueby said:

Long post...Been a bourbon fan a long time but had never made the trip to any distilleries. Mrs. Clueby and Icame over this weekend for my birthday..which is today. We drove straight to Bardstown yesterday but didn't get there till the early afternoon. I really just wanted to hit the gift shops for special bottles and look around. 

Stopped at HH and Willett. Maybe it's the rush of the holiday season but both store's employees were pretty rude and condescending when I asked if they had anything special release. HH had WHH12 and ECBP only and passed on both of those. Willett had all their brands but the only WFE branded bottles was their 4 Year Rye. Picked up a bottle for a friend. When I asked if there were any WFE bourbons they laughed at me.  Wasn't a great start to my first Motherland trip.

Drove around Bardstown a bit and stopped at Toddy's for a laugh.  Tried to stop at the 4R bottling plant gift shop.  Google said it closed at 4 but it closed at 3 so we missed.

Went to the Bernheim Forest and hiked around looking at the "Giants". Very cool.

Came back to Louisville and hit Westport Whiskey and Wine at the suggestion of an SB'r. They have a tasting room with great allocated pour pricing. The 2019 4RSmBLE is outstanding! Had to have a Birthday Bourbon..well...because.  Hit a TW for some KY only bottles to take home.

Today did a Mint Julep tour. First stop was at SW for a tasting only. Awesome historical place. Tasting was meh...Bulleitt bourbon and rye, IW Harper, and Blade and Bow.

On to Woodford. Beautiful place in a beautiful setting. Bourbon production is actually shut down but was still a good tour. Tasting was regular WR, DO, and their rye. Bought a bottle of their wheat whiskey.

On to BT. Its HUGE. Gift shop only had regular BT and Bourbon Cream.

But..the highlight of the trip...our tour guide was Freddie!! He was awesome in every way and really made it personal.  Since we had already seen the distilling process at WR he wanted to show us things we don't always see. Went to the branding room. He talked a lot about the barrels. Shared stories about his father, etc. We went into Warehouse P, and into "The Last Drop" section and the cold storage experimental section.  There were barrels there from the early 90s. (No pics in there)

We did a tasting led by Freddie of vodka, BT, ER, and Bourbon Cream..ending up with it mixed with his namesake rootbeer.

We went into the Blanton's bottling house and Freddie gave me a couple Blanton's stoppers straight from the line because someone had pointed out it was my birthday.  Was a great day and totally made up for yesterday's distillery visits.

We will be back.

20191228_170537.jpg

20191228_161743.jpg

I’m just seeing this post. I have a whirlwind business trip through the motherland in a couple of weeks and like you was hoping I could at least pop in some distillery gift shops and find something different. Nothing allocated but maybe a master distiller or distillery selected barrel. My targets in mind:

Wilderness Trail

Willett

Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Wild Turkey

Four Roses (any chance of getting a PS bottle??)

New Riff

Boone County 

 

Am I dreaming?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Richnimrod

I'm certain that you'll find some interesting things offered at most of these places, if you actually have time to shop around 'em in 'whirlwind' trip.    If you hit 'em all, and scoop everything you find interesting and/or unavailable elsewhere, I hope you have LOADS of CASH, or a fireproof credit card.  HA!  🤯🤫😆

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CUfan99
8 hours ago, Richnimrod said:

I'm certain that you'll find some interesting things offered at most of these places, if you actually have time to shop around 'em in 'whirlwind' trip.    If you hit 'em all, and scoop everything you find interesting and/or unavailable elsewhere, I hope you have LOADS of CASH, or a fireproof credit card.  HA!  🤯🤫😆

If there are finds there will be much consternation to the point of anguish about what to acquire since you never know what else awaits you at the next destination. Also, I have a special acquisition already lined up that will deplete my budget substantially. Maybe I should just drive through Kentucky at max safe speed and not exceed my 1 stop. 🤔

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Richnimrod
1 hour ago, CUfan99 said:

If there are finds there will be much consternation to the point of anguish about what to acquire since you never know what else awaits you at the next destination. Also, I have a special acquisition already lined up that will deplete my budget substantially. Maybe I should just drive through Kentucky at max safe speed and not exceed my 1 stop. 🤔

Well, only you can decide about such things....

But if it might be a long time before such opportunities again are presented, maybe stretch out that schedule, and allow a little short-term pain in that wallet for the long term pleasure that may be attained....?   Just sayin'....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flahute
21 hours ago, CUfan99 said:

I’m just seeing this post. I have a whirlwind business trip through the motherland in a couple of weeks and like you was hoping I could at least pop in some distillery gift shops and find something different. Nothing allocated but maybe a master distiller or distillery selected barrel. My targets in mind:

Wilderness Trail

Willett

Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Wild Turkey

Four Roses (any chance of getting a PS bottle??)

New Riff

Boone County 

 

Am I dreaming?

That's a big list depending on what whirlwind means.

Assuming that tours are not on your radar, just interesting bottles, I'd say:

 

Wilderness Trail - they will have distillery exclusives.

Willett - very hit or miss. They usually have their 4yr old small batch WFE rye for sale. You have to be pretty lucky to find a WFE bourbon at this point.

BBC - I don't know enough about these guys.

Wild Turkey - they don't sell anything unique there. If the RRSiB Rye is tough to find in your area they sometimes have that.

Four Roses - it's possible to get a PS bottle yes but call ahead first because they don't always have one. (And to think of the times I was there in the past when all 10 recipes were available).

New Riff - that's a long drive up to Cincinnati but they'll likely have something.

BC - I don't know anything about them.

  • I like it 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CUfan99

Much obliged for the assistance @flahute. Thank goodness 4R doesn’t have all 10 recipes available at the gift shop anymore! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Flyfish
On 12/28/2019 at 8:09 PM, Clueby said:

But..the highlight of the trip...our tour guide was Freddie!! He was awesome in every way and really made it personal.  Since we had already seen the distilling process at WR he wanted to show us things we don't always see. Went to the branding room. He talked a lot about the barrels. Shared stories about his father, etc. We went into Warehouse P, and into "The Last Drop" section and the cold storage experimental section.  There were barrels there from the early 90s. (No pics in there)

Freddie is a real gem! Mrs. F and I have been to BT three times, once just after a March ice storm. We were the only people there and didn't need or expect another tour. Freddie insisted on taking us behind the scenes. He gave me a big mallet to pop the bung out of a barrel for dumping and put Mrs. F on the bottling line affixing Japanese labels on Blanton's. Freddie is the best tour guide we have ever had--and not just at distilleries.

  • I like it 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IamMatt

What a great post.  It's a pilgrimage I hope every bourbon lover can make.  My wife and I went last October and your stories bring back memories and make me even more anxious to go back once everything is back to normal again.

 

I hope it's Ok, but can I share some suggestions from our experience for anyone else planning a trip to the Trail? 

 

1) Plan as many days as you can.  There are a LOT of distilleries to visit, as well as the storefonts on Whiskey Row.

 

2) When you are mapping out your itinerary along the trail, you might want to find out if the distilleries will let you taste without taking a tour.  Several would not, so you may have to decide if you want to spend 45 minutes or more each time seeing how whiskey is made (again).  Lux Row let us pay for a tasting without the tour.  Bardstown offered a choice of tastings/flights.  Tastings are easier on Whiskey Row in Louisville because there are not multi-acre distillery properties attached to each storefront, and there are multiple distilleries represented in an 8 or 10-block area.

 

3 There are lots of other sights in Louisville and the surrounding area.  Historic Old Louisville, various Civil War battlegrounds and memorials, Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, etc. 

 

4) Start at the Frazier Museum, or at least don't miss it.  After all, it is the Official Starting Point of the Bourbon Trail.

 

5) Consider going to the Jim Beam distillery.  I don't know if other distilleries do this, but at the end of the tour you can bottle your own bottle of Knob Creek Single Barrel (no, you don't get to pick the barrel!).  They will laser-etch the bottle for you as well.  We were celebrating our 31st anniversary so we had that etched on the bottle, and pressed out thumbprints into the wax seal while it was still hot. 

 

6) I would agree with those who recommend picking up bottles you can not easily get at home.  We made a side trip to Tennessee and bought a whiskey there that is only distributed in the state. 

 

7) There are lots of good bourbon bars in Louisville.  I don't know if it is the best, but one to keep in mind is the Lobby Bar at the Brown Hotel.  It is a cool historic hotel with an extensive bourbon menu.  I am not 100% sure if it would be OK to post a link to their menu so I won't, but Google can show you.  A little pricey, but nothing over $800 (!)  Not the best area of town.

 

I can't wait to go back!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.