Tour time. Bourbon tours book in advance and many distilleries don’t really have walk-in policies. So before leaving, I plotted three tours that covered new, old and cocktails.
First was NuLu and Rabbit Hole…
…this is a really cool space with my favorite bourbons of the trip plus a barrel-aged gin that was great too. Our tour took us three levels up and allowed us to see fermenting beer as well. We got a cocktail at the beginning of the tour and a tasting at the end at their bar.
Right down the street was Old Forester. This was a well oiled tour. Disney-esque. You get quick history of the brand and a nice tasting at the end. Plus you get a barrel charring show too. This bourbon was good but I liked the chocolate from the tour better.
The next day at the Bardstown Bourbon campus that is at 14 rickhouses but going to 30! This tour was cocktails both shaken and stirred…
This was fun. Our tour took us to a special bar in a rickhouse. We got instructions to make a Bourbon Mule and an Old Fashioned. I learned which gear I need and how to use it. And we got a glass at the end.
When you plan a trip, I strongly suggest planning in advance and to choosing more than just a basic tour.
Tuesday was no reservation day. We picked three distilleries and walked in to see what they had to offer. First up was Heaven Hill and their stable of brands. I picked….
…the Heaven Hill Family Flight with the Evan Williams coming out the winner. The bar was cool as was the history exhibit of the five brothers that have run the distillery.
Stops two and three were Preservation and Makers Mark. Both had great grounds but S IV was more my style. Even on a Tuesday, it was a real cool spot down in a hollow with a creek running through it and bourbon slushies. And black and red coordinated buildings.
Back in the town, we made several visits to the oldest bourbon bar at the Old Talbott Tavern which is where we were staying. It doesn’t really play up the historical aspect as much as I expected and the drinks were fine but I had classier presented drinks. I had more beers there than bourbon.
Travel Day Sunday went smoothly from LAX to Muhammad Ali Airport. Once settling in near the Ohio River, it was time to find some bourbon. And find a flight of rye we did at Doc Crow’s on Main Street with Michters coming out on top of the four.
With the New Riff, second. The middle pair were too hot on the palate for me. Then to finish off the night, my first ever Mint Julep…
Monday brought rain and the Frazier Museum to get some Bourbon history. There was a really well done interactive portion as well including a put the barrel back together section. Plus the gift store has a great selection of Kentucky gifts.
After a horsey detour to the famous Churchill Downs, we headed down to the bourbon capital, Bardstown. Where we are staying at the oldest hotel in the area plus it has the oldest bourbon bar. More on that later. The first distillery stop and only one open in our Monday time frame was Boundary Oak near Fort Knox.
I would avoid the lavender and cinnamon versions and stick to the classic named My Old Kentucky Home which had a nice kick and a really nice corn taste to it. The cask strength Lincoln was nice too.
This month I will be making my first ever trip to Kentucky, specifically, the Bourbon Trail from Louisville to Bardstown. So get a snifter out, there is going to be some bourbon talk this month.
~e-visits to (3) breweries from cities that also distill spirits ~ special featured review of Kentucky
~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events ~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark ~ A Book & A Beer reads Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler ~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to Bourbon Pursuit ~ New Beer Releases and Best Beers of the Month ~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.
Since I am in Portland, thoughts turn to my beloved Blazers and former player who almost got us a second ‘ship. Scottie Pippen.
Pippen has teamed with Dave Phinney to create a new bourbon, Digits with a ring absent hand on the label
Here are the details from the distillery.
Barrels “Each barrel is hand-selected for it’s unique attributes by Dave & Scottie. The youngest Bourbon in the blend is five years old. The barrels were sourced from Indiana and Tennessee and aged at Savage & Cooke on historic Mare Island.”
Mash Bill 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Profile “In a true reflection of Scottie, the mature Bourbon is lush, velvety and a pleasure to drink with no hard edges. DIGITS is packed with flavors of vanilla bean, caramel, buttered toast and maple. Enjoy neat or on the rocks.”
Continuing the reviews of beers bought from the Glendale Tap cellar, we go old with the 2019 barrel-aged Barleywine release of Old Jetty from El Segundo Brewing.
This ale was aged in bourbon barrels and strides in at 13.2% ABV. Old Jetty is both prickly and smooth at the same time. There is loads of bourbon character but at the same time the sweetness is restrained. A bit of syrup note here. Great brunch beer.
Usually, I am a gin guy or in a Rye Whiskey mood but when you see that Re:Find has already sold out their first two batches of bourbon, it makes you think they may have something there. Personally, I would like to get a set of 1/2 size bottles of the Rye and the Bourbon as a set.
One of the benefits of having streaming services so hungry for content is that you can see documentaries that cover the spectrum of topics. Competitive baristas or a quick history of, say, Bourbon.
Neat – A History of Bourbon is beautifully shot. Stuffed to almost the breaking point with images of Bourbon being splashed into glasses. The film covers major points in Bourbon history such as the Bonded Act and Congress enshrining the drink as only Made in America followed by the creation of single barrel and small batch bourbons. Summarized a bit too much but still clearly expressed.
But the true heart of the story are two people who needed much more screen time, Freddie Johnson and Marianne Barnes. Johnson who is a third generation employee as a tour guide tour guide for Buffalo Trace speaks very eloquently especially about his father and relationships. Very touching stuff. Barnes is the master distiller for a new (as of filming) distillery, Castle & Key—a new Kentucky distillery. She is the first female master distiller in Kentucky since Prohibition and I would love to have heard more about her journey in Bourbon.
Beware, you will want some Bourbon on hand and you may want to make an Old Fashioned at the end.