Kentucky is a place where men carry on about the soil, being married to the land and being buried in it. It's also home to the world's finest burley, the cradle of the best Thoroughbreds and birthplace of MR's favorite bourbon.
A year ago my daughter mentioned that she had been invited by a gentleman friend to visit The Woodford Reserve Distillery. MR. recalls watching one of my eyebrows raise from across the room. He told me that he admired the way that I casually gathered all the pertinent information – who, what, when, where, and "WHY on earth would you want to visit a distillery?"
This one said it sounded like fun and wanted to go too - of course, he did. We took MR. for Father's Day and we all loved it! Some of us more than others.
All Kentucky distilleries are steeped in tradition; Woodford Reserve is a showplace of the distiller's art and Kentucky bourbon heritage. This small, picturesque distillery is nestled along Glenn's Creek at the site where Elijah Pepper, one of the famous early Bluegrass distillers, set up his distillery in 1812.
The L & G on the smokestack goes back to 1878 when James Graham and Leopold Labrot bought the property.
In 1995, the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000.
As the founding member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, the Woodford Reserve Distillery gives visitors a sense of what bourbon making was like in the 1800s.
On our tour, we learned about each aspect of the bourbon-making process, starting with fermentation. Making whiskey at this stage is a lot like making bread. Woodford uses its own unique yeast strain which is added to the mix to start the fermentation process. The average fermentation time for bourbon is three days, but Woodford Reserve ferments for a full 6 days, one of the longest fermentations in the industry.
According to master distiller Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve has its roots as a 500-acre working family farm with cattle and grain. Here he breaks down five sources of flavor in whiskey to grain, water, fermentation, distillation, and aging.
After fermentation, Woodford Reserve is distilled three times in these massive copper pot stills.
Woodford then ages their whiskey in stone rack houses that date back to 1870. They use a process called cycling which involves heating and cooling the warehouse to manage the maturation.
The summertime heat expands the whiskey, pushing it into the charred layers of white oak. During winter the cold weather draws the liquid back into the barrel.
These cycles give bourbon its characteristic color, flavors, and aromas.
Woodford is aged for an average of 7 years before it’s blended and hand bottled.
That's why it's called "small batch."
At the end of the tour, we sampled two of Woodford’s offerings.
and a bourbon ball ~ sweet!
Followed by some golf and a nap. A good Father's Day indeed!
Don't forget to mind your manners & drink responsibly.