One of the things that is on our "To Do For Fun" list (yes, we literally have a list where we add things and cross them off as we do them) is to visit all 8 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. While it's not impossible to do from Nashville, we knew it'd be easier if we could knock half of them out some weekend while we still live in Indiana.
So a few weeks ago, we spent a Saturday doing the first three on our list - we made sure to get our passport stamped at each one, too. They have these cute little passports you can pick up at any location, and when you get all 8 stamps you can get a free t-shirt. I'm not sure I will care about the shirt, but it's still neat to get the stamps and write the date and notes about each visit.
Our first stop was Jim Beam. We took the tour, and the neatest part was that you got to pick up a bottle, rinse it and see it go down the line. You could also buy it right off the line, but we opted to skip that part as we didn't know if we'd care for the specific type they were bottling.
The tour was really neat - it was the walkthrough of how the whiskey is made, etc., but they did a good job of sharing neat little facts about their history. You also get to try two different samples at the end.
Next, we stopped at Heaven Hill. It was a very different experience - there's not really a tour; instead, we watched a video and were able to sample two types of bourbon. The only picture I even took was of this barrel display showing the different types they make.
Our last stop that day, and the one we were most excited about, was Maker's Mark.
The tour was pretty standard - you get to see how the make the bourbon, etc. The thing that made this one a little different is they encourage you to stick your finger into the sour mash during the fermentation process and sample it.
At the end of the tour, you are able to sample 4 types of their bourbon - including one they don't even sell and one they only sell at the distillery. After our tour, we purchased two bottles so that we could dip our own. It was a really fun and neat thing to get to do!
About a week later, we were driving through Louisville on one of our many trips back and forth between Indy and TN. We decided to knock out Evan Williams and stopped off for an hour or so.
Instead of taking their standard tour (which would have walked us through how they make the bourbon and is pretty much the same tour we've had everywhere else), we decided to take the Speakeasy tour. You sit at this really cool bar that is made to look like you're in an old speakeasy, and you learn all about Prohibition along with samples 3 different types of their bourbon. The "tour guide" was in character as if he were the bartender, and it was just really neat!
We've decided we can knock out the other 4 distilleries with a weekend trip to east KY where all the others are generally located. It may be this fall before we have a chance to do it, but so far the experience is proving to be a lot of fun!