The most-looked-forward to distillery on our visit to Kentucky was Buffalo Trace. Not just because they make some darned good bourbon, but because based on the research I had done it looked like a very historic and photogenic location.
One of the things we found interesting about the distilleries is how open they are with their operations. I suppose there are few “secrets” in the industry, so the willingness to be open and welcoming is just part of the tradition. We booked three separate hour long tours at Buffalo Trace that took us behind the scenes from the point at which the corn was unloaded, through the barrel selection and preparation, filling, bottling and packing. When we showed up for the first tour, the guides wanted to be sure we were aware that we only got to taste once – at the end of the third tour! 😉 It made for a long morning, but since we didn’t taste between each one it was not hard to do because it was so interesting!
I mentioned in an earlier post that every distillery has it’s own “claim to fame,” and Buffalo Trace has theirs. According to Wikipedia, the company claims the distillery to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. Burks’ distillery, now used for production of Maker’s Mark, claims to be the oldest operating bourbon distillery. The difference is that Buffalo Trace’s predecessor was able to process bourbon throughout Prohibition, making whiskey for “medicinal purposes”. It’s all part of the friendly competition, and just a little bit of marketing. 😉
I feel like I got some very interesting photographs here, partly because we spent a lot more time here, but also because it was a very engaging facility and because it was in fact so photogenic. For me it was the highlight of the trip, along with the carload of “souvenirs” that we brought home!
I’m finally getting back to looking at some of my photos from our visit to Kentucky in …. oops, September!? How did that happen? Our first stop was at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.
Every distillery seems to have their own “claim to fame” in terms of being first, longest, oldest, etc. But it’s hard to argue with a company that can say “Jim Beam is the World’s No. 1 Bourbon.” And you would be hard pressed to find a distillery in Kentucky that doesn’t trace it’s history back the Beam family line in some way. In fact many and perhaps most of the Master Distillers at Kentucky distilleries today either have the last name of Beam or are somehow descended from the family.
For many people, Jim Beam is synonymous with Bourbon. In fact, that’s what we drank almost exclusively until we started exploring other brands. Like anything, there are lots of choices, but ultimately it comes down to preference and choice.
When we last visited about 10 years ago, Bourbon had not become mainstream like it is today, and the visitor areas consisted on a small tasting room and gift shop. Today, the company has built a huge gift shop, tasting room and museum and is very user friendly. The tours are let by very knowledgeable guides, and very little is “off limits.” Photos are encouraged and welcome, which is a refreshing change from some of the places we visit.
I didn’t end up taking many “artsy” photos, but between my phone and my camera I did end up with quite a collection. These are just a few of my “blog-worthy” photos.
For anyone interested in Bourbon and just a nice, friendly old fashioned place to visit, you can’t get much better than Jim Beam!