December 29, 2011

Bourbon Tour

Being from Kentucky, a trip to a bourbon distillery is a must! My boyfriend just got into town, so today we decided to take a trip to two different distilleries in Kentucky. 

Woodford Reserve & Buffalo Trace Distillery

Woodford Reserve is one of the smaller bourbon distilleries located just south of Frankfort in Versailles, KY. This distillery is a very picturesque and has a ton of history! Here are some pictures from our trip with some fun bourbon facts!
The production buildings of Woodford Reserve
Bourbon Barrel "Railroad"
This fun "railroad" is how the workers transport full oak barrels full of bourbon from the "filling" building to the "aging" building. To be considered "bourbon", the liquor must be aged in newly charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Woodford takes great pride in their product and allows the liquor to age for six to nine years. The barrels are HEAVY! Without any liquid, the barrels themselves weight 100 pounds, and with the addition of the liquid, they weigh OVER 500 pounds! So the "railroad" is semi necessary. 
Fermentation Tank
This gigantic barrels holds 7,500 gallons of bourbon mash which consists of corn (72%), malted barley (10%), rye (18%), KY limestone water, and their secret yeast strain. As the mash ferments in these tanks, the yeast converts the sugars in the grain into alcohol.
Copper Pots Distills 
Once the mash has fermented and the yeast have done what they need to do, the alcohol needs to be separated from the mash. This is uniquely done in three separate copper pot chambers that have been imported all the way from Scotland. The mash is boiled and the alcohol evaporates out of the first, and condenses into the second copper pot. The process happens again in the third pot, resulting in a clear liquor. This clear liquor is commonly referred to as "moonshine," if left as is. 
Bourbon Before Aged
The liquor is then pumped into the oak barrels and left to age for six to nine years to get the distinctive amber color and flavor.
Charred Oak Barrels

Aging Bourbon

Bottling Process
After the bourbon has aged for the appropriate amount of time, it is then bottled, shipped, and sold at a retailer near you!

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Now it is hard to compare Woodford Reserve with Buffalo Trace, because the former produces bourbon on a small scale, the latter produces a much greater volume. Buffalo Trace produces 14 different types of bourbon at this location located in downtown Frankfort, KY. So the grounds are a little more industrial looking.

Buffalo Sculpture

Bourbon Production Buildings
We didn't get to see exactly where the bourbon is produced here, because everything is so spread out. But the process of producing the bourbon is essentially the same as Woodford Reserve, except for a few different minor adjustments. (For more specific information about their product, click here!)
Bourbon Barrel

Experimental Barrels
One of the most interesting things about Buffalo Trace were their "experimental barrels" of bourbon. These barrels were much smaller than their usual batch, and used grains such as rice and oats instead of the usual corn, barley, rye combo. Once the barrels have aged enough, they will compare that product to their current product and possibly make a brand new bourbon form it. Exciting! 
Our Tour Guide with all Buffalo Trace Bourbon Products

And we tasted of course! We tasted two different types of bourbon and a "Bourbon Cream" which is basically like Baileys Irish Cream, except with Bourbon! (That was my favorite)
Marshall with Bourbon

Me with Bourbon Cream

I highly recommend visiting some bourbon distilleries if you are ever in the Louisville/Lexington Kentucky area!

For more information about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, click here!


  1. Kimberly:
    I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog! Each time you post a new recipe, I can't wait to make it. I've been out of town for the holidays and now that I'm back at home with access to my kitchen, I am going to get busy and try some of your recipes. I'm going to start with your Pumpkin Oatmeal. I love that you gave a non-dairy option. Since my Husband is lactose intolerant, I'm always trying to adjust recipes, with some successes and some failures :-). I can't wait until your next post!
    Love, Ellen

  2. Thanks Ellen! So glad you like it! I hope the oatmeal turns out well for you! Once I get back to my normal schedule, I'll be putting up posts more regularly!