What’s a Backyard Party without some BourbonQ.
Today we tackle some of your question with our friends over a glass of bourbon, of course.
Which distillery has the best tasting?
Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center has always put great emphasis on the tasting process and their Whiskey Connoisseur’s Tasting allows you to sample some of the finest bourbons on the market. I like the tasting at Barton, too. They really do a good job of explaining how to taste.
Which tour is great for newbies?
Hmm, this is a tough one. They all do a pretty good job of explaining what makes bourbon, well, bourbon. If I had to pick, I’d say Buffalo Trace because you get to see everything from the cooker to bottling in a truly historic setting. Or maybe, Jim Beam because while they are the Big Daddy of distilling their American Stillhouse Experience has created a distillery within a distillery so guests can understand the process. I lovingly refer to it as the Disneyland of the bourbon tours because it was created with the visitor in mind so while it’s a little “produced” it offers a wonderful overview of distilling…and hey, everyone knows Jim Beam.
What’s suitable for the kids?
I’ve taken kids to Barton, Willett and Heaven Hill. All were great, but they like Willett and Barton the best. I think Buffalo Trace would be cool for kids too.
Give me some food with my bourbon, please.
You’re in luck. There are some fabulous restaurants on distillery grounds. One of my favorites is Star Hill Provisions at Maker’s Mark. The casual menu changes seasonally so it is very much “of the place” but my favorite the Benedictine and bacon sandwich is always on the menu. For more hearty fare Bottle & Bond at Bardstown Bourbon Company is great stop. Jim Beam and Woodford Reserve also have restaurants and many distilleries have special culinary events.
I’ve never really had bourbon, what should I try?
If someone is new to bourbon I usually recommend Basil Hayden on the rocks with a splash of water (or soda). I have a 100% success rate with that one. The only hitch there is if you are a Scotch drinker, then you’ll want to start with something that has a little more of the rye coming through like Four Roses Single Barrel, Eagle Rare or Buffalo Trace.
Where can I inspire Instajealousy?
Ooh, that’s a good one. You could go one of two ways here: hit up some of the most scenic distilleries like Willett Distillery, Maker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve; or you could go where you are likely to see one of bourbon’s icons hanging out. Jimmy Russell is often found visiting with bourbon lovers at Wild Turkey and if you’re at Jim Beam take a close look at who’s relaxing in one of their rocking chairs as you’re likely to see Fred Noe taking a break and enjoying the view.
Which distillery is closest to Etown?
You’re closest to Hardin County’s own Boundary Oak Distillery. It’s a craft distillery which means you’ll get a close look at the distilling process in a small setting. Really, the process is the same everywhere, but craft distillers tend to be small and produce a smaller number of barrels per day. Tell Brent that the Bourbon’s Backyard crew sent you.
Who has the best gift shop?
I don’t know where to even begin on this one. If we go by the theory that the bigger the shop the better: Buffalo Trace, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Willett, and Jim Beam have some pretty fantastic finds.
Can I bottle my own bourbon?
You can at some places, or at least have a hands-on experience. Angel’s Envy offers a special tour where you can fill your own bottle. You can dip your bottle in the signature red wax at Maker’s Mark and you can fill your own bottle at Jim Beam’s Urban Stillhouse.
Where can I get a cocktail with my tour?
Lucky for us cocktail fans, a lot of distilleries now offer cocktails. Any of the distilleries with restaurants have cocktails: Willett, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and Bardstown Bourbon Company. And many hold mixology classes throughout the year.
Lux Row in Bardstown, Angel’s Envy in downtown Louisville and Bulleit in Shelbyville are all fairly new. You might be the first of your friends to check it out.
I’m a “science nerd”, where should I go?
I think Four Roses gives the most scientific tour. You really learn about the science of distilling. And it’s a pretty cool campus too.
I don’t really want to walk a lot is there one for me?
I think the best tours for limited walking are the craft distilleries because they are typically very compact. I love Willett and Peerless. I hear great things about Rabbit Hole, but I haven’t made it there yet.
Where can I see the real deal?
While all the distillery experiences are real, I think I know what you mean. If you want a distillery experience where you really feel like you are at a working distillery, I love Barton. It’s a fantastic tour but you can tell that the tour works around the business of distilling; you’re not on a distillery that was built with visitation in mind.
History is my middle name. Where should I go?
The National Historic Landmark Tour or the E.H. Taylor Tour at Buffalo Trace highlight two very special eras of this historic distillery. The Legacy Tour at Woodford Reserve takes you through 200 years of bourbon-making history. Maker’s Mark is also a National Historic Landmark. Any of the three should satisfy your inner historian.
How should I drink my bourbon?
Any way you want, just as long as you drink it responsibly.