We had been talking about going on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for a while, so we took the occasion of my birthday as an excuse to finally do it. We and another couple drove down on a Friday night of a 3-day weekend. On Saturday, we visited Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Heaven Hill distilleries. The weather was extremely cooperative and we had a bright, sunny, warm day to see the beautiful Kentucky countryside. Jim Beam was nice. We did the self-guided tour with the tasting at the end. We discovered we like the flavored bourbons from Jim Beam. A little Honey Tea Bourbon over ice is very pleasant indeed. Maker's Mark was probably our favorite tour and our favorite bourbon. They were so open and pleasant. We got to see the actual production line, including the 100 year old cypress vats full of bubbling mash -- a heady, but not unpleasant smell to be sure. Then we went to Heaven Hill. If it weren't on the passport, I would say skip it. They were rude, overbooked. We didn't get a tour or a tasting. As a result, we didn't buy anything other than a shot glass. The next day, we had to see 4 distilleries. We knew some of them would have to be a fly-by passport stamp to make them all. As it turned out, we only had to really do that to one of them. The old passport only had 6 distilleries, but the new one has 7. The newest arrival is Town Branch. We found the nicest people and most interesting buildings yet. They were futuristic and old world at the same time. At the tasting, look for their Bluegrass Sundown - a bourbon and coffee libation with heavy cream on top. Yum! We then went to the beautiful Woodford Reserve distillery, Four Roses and finally, Wild Turkey. At Four Roses, we were there right before they closed, so we only got our stamp. At Wild Turkey, we were told by the very nice young men at the counter that while we had missed the last tour, we could join the tasting.
The highlights of the tour:
1. The very pleasant people - especially at Maker's Mark, Town Branch and Wild Turkey.
2. The beautiful scenery.
3. The bourbon!
1. The Bourbon Trail website needs to be updated. It doesn't take long and Town Branch has been open for 6 weeks. Plus a some of the information is wrong.
2. The dour lady at the door at Heaven Hill.
All in all, we had a great time and we would do it again.
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