We crammed 4 Bourbon Tours into one day. We ended our day with Woodford Reserve. You would think we saved the best for last. Unfortunately it ended up being the other way around. What I have found in comparing this tour with the 3 other Distillers in the area is that Woodford Reserve is the most beautiful and elaborate of the Distilleries but it is definitely not Visitor Friendly. Many of the traits show that they instead are more interested in self promotion and elitism rather than building customer support.
Here are the points of frustration in the tour.
1. I know you have already read this but this is the only tour with a charges. Yes I know it is only $5.00. But the point of the Distillery tours is to build up the Bourbon in Kentucky and to educate the public about Bourbon not to turn the distilleries into tourist traps.
2. Our Tour Guide showed how much of an idiot he was from the very beginning. He made a big deal about fires in Distilleries. He made sure to tell everyone how dangerous Cell Phones and Camera Flashes are dangerous around alcohol. That we need to turn off our cell phones and not use camera flashes. Does this guy not know that the entire cell phone causing fires at gas pumps is an Urban Legend? Does he think that we are using old fashion flash bulbs? The funny thing is he said not a word about lighters or smoking.
3. Our Wonderful Tour Guide proved time and time again that he was talking to hear himself.
a. He spouted out facts like all the other distilleries use Fletchers Yeas to make their bourbon but Woodford Reserve has their own specially developed strain. Uhhhhh I guess he has not gone to any other Distilleries to know that each one has their own variations of yeast. That is one of the components that makes each bourbon unique.
b. Our Tour Guide said that if a barrel had sat more than 15 years there would not be anything left in the barrel. Hmmmm why is it at Liquor Barn in Lexington have a 18 year old bottle of bourbon for $92.00?
c. Our Tour Guide continually put down all the other Distillers in very disrespectful ways. Now I know they are in competition. But at the 3 other tours I attended today the different tour guides openly talked mostly positive about all the other distilleries and I did not hear any kind of childish slander from any of them about Woodford Reserve or anyone else. In fact on the 4 Roses tour the guide recommended that we go to Woodford since they were in production. At Buffalo Trace we were recommended to go to Woodford because of the beauty of the drive and the facilities.
4. In looking through their gift shop I noticed that the prices were a bit high on the Woodford Reserve bourbon. In fact after leaving there we went to Liquor Barn and most of their bottles were $5-$7 dollars cheaper. But the other Distilleries were selling their bottles at the same price as Liquor Barn or less. Why would the Distiller mark their bottles higher than retail? Or are they taking advantage of tourist trap impulse buying?
5. Don't even bother going to their snack bar. I almost thought I was at a sporting event or movie. I went to get a 12oz bottle of Ale81 and they charged $1.79 a bottle.
I know a long list but all the other tours we took today my friends and I had a great time at and enjoyed ourselves. At Woodford Reserve where the tour and facilities should be a class act were really a tourist trap. Just on principle alone I do not believe I would ever touch Woodford Reserve again! It is unfortunate. Instead of building on developing new bourbon customers and being ambassadors for bourbon they are operating a Pigeon Forge style tourist trap.
Do yourself a favor and Skip Woodford and substitute Buffalo Trace instead for the Bourbon Trail. It is not on the passport but it is a much better tour and it is FREE! (and they have bourbon balls as well!)