At first, going on the Woodford Reserve Distillery's tour just seemed like the right thing to do during our visit to central Kentucky, since were spending the weekend in the midst of the Kentucky "Bourbon Trail." But after we took the Woodford Reserve tour, we realized it's possible to have a fabulous time learning about how bourbon is made. Thanks to their $7 tour, we got an up-close-and-personal look at the steps (and the sights and smells) of the bourbon business. But since Woodford Reserve is (in the words of our tour guide) a teeny-tiny distillery in comparison to some of the others nearby, our tour experience was probably a lot more up-close-and-personal than average.
To start the tour, we got an overview of the steps in bourbon production. Then we were shuttled in a van down the hill to the historic 1830's-vintage limestone buildings where the mash is cooked, distilled, put in barrels, and tucked away for its five-to-nine-year slumber toward greatness. After that, we were shuttled back to the "start" building where we enjoyed a shot of the mature, blended product served in a souvenir Woodford Reserve shot glass and accompanied by a chocolate-covered bourbon-flavored candy.
Of note, my elderly mother chose to wait for us in the welcome building while we toured, but the staff allowed her to join us for the tasting. (She liked it very much.) Looking back, Mom probably would have had no trouble maneuvering through the tour, since most of the walking was on the flat and there was a small elevator next to the only stairway we encountered. (Hey, that sounds like a good excuse to visit again, doesn't it? Hmmm...)
Woodford describes itself as a premium brand; every aspect of the tour experience only underscores that positioning...from the obvious respect for tradition and the history of Kentucky bourbon distilling shown by the tour guide, to the kindness and respect the staff showed our mother while she waited for us in the "start" building. All in all, we received a fabulous introduction to bourbon-distilling and a very warm welcome to Kentucky's "Bourbon Trail."
TIP: You'd be wise to plan your visit for early in the day. Our tour started just after 10:00 a.m. By the time we returned to "start position," the crowds were already gathering. I suspect our tour group was a smaller (and hence, the experience was that much more enjoyable) than those groups whose tours followed ours.
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