December 9 – 11, 2014: On our way to Louisville, we stopped in Bardstown. We visited Willett Distillery, a small craft bourbon operation that is family-owned and operated, for a distillery tour. The tour guide was really great and the tour also offered a tasting at the end. The next day we ended up purchasing one of Willett’s bourbons (Johnny Drum) as I realized, after tasting others, how much I had enjoyed the Willett. We then had dinner at the Old Talbott Tavern (built in 1799). I had a fantastic bourbon BBQ meatloaf and Michael had Kentucky’s signature dish – Kentucky Hot Brown. Of course we made sure to sample more local bourbon too!
The next day, in Louisville, we partook in the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience tour for $12 each. This was a new tour and primarily told via short movies that played as we walked through rooms that were made to look like the old town and distilleries. The tour included information about making bourbon, the history of bourbon as it relates to Louisville, and prohibition. Evan Williams is part of the larger distillery Heaven Hill but, in this downtown facility, they have recently started producing artisanal batches of bourbon. Since it was only been a little over a year there won’t be any bourbon ready for another eight years or so. The best part of the tour was when they asked whose birthday was soonest – it was mine – and then I signed, dated, and banged the bung into a barrel that was just filled. In eight years, Evan Williams will contact us and see if we’d like to purchase a bottle from that single-barrel bourbon.
Our next distillery was Buffalo Trace, located closer to Lexington. We partook in their free tour and tasting and then purchased their new desert Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream and bourbon balls. Absolutely delicious! Buffalo Trace currently produces one of the most sought-after (and expensive) bourbons – Pappy Van Winkle; no, we didn’t get to taste it.