We have had a lot of great bourbon over the last couple of days. Today was no different. We visited three outside of Lexington, Kentucky. We also were able to get to one of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives joints in the area.

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery

We started the morning early at Buffalo Trace. They were recently named a National Historic Landmark and are the longest continuously running distillery in the US. I bet you’re asking how that’s possible; especially considering prohibition lasted for 13 years. They were one of four distilleries licensed to produce whiskey for medicinal purposes. We also discovered they are the producers of Peychaud’s and Reagans bitters is made. They have a number of different tours available. They have a three-hour informative tour, which we tried to book two weeks in advance but it was already sold out. However, the free tour they provided when we got to the distillery very good. It was educational and included a 10 minute video, a rick house where they age the bourbon. Then we saw one of the bottling lines for Blanton’s Single Barrel, where we got to watch it go from barrel, to bottle, to labeling and to the box. They’ve just released the company’s first Vodka, Wheatley, named after its creator and Buffalo’s master distiller, Harlen Wheatley. Unlike many vodkas that are distilled between 5-7 times, it is distilled 10 times. It has been on the market for less than two months and right now is only available at the distillery.



Inside Rick's White Light Diner

Inside Rick’s White Light Diner

While we’ve enjoyed learning and sampling bourbon, we’ve found much of these towns to be a bit of a “good” food desert. Luckily, just a couple of miles from Buffalo Trace was Rick’s White Light Diner, a restaurant featured on Diner, Drive-ins and Dives (DDD). They are known for the Cajun creations like you would find in New Orleans. We had the crawfish pie, which was featured on the show and a Muffuletta. The crawfish pie had good flavor but had obviously been reheated so it lacked the crunch and texture of a fresh baked meat pie. If it were fresh I would imagine it would be incredible. The muffuletta was that in name only but if it had just been called a sandwich, it would have been better. Like many DDDs it was good, not great, but if you are in the area worth stopping in. The staff was friendly.

Woodford Reserve Grounds

Woodford Reserve Grounds

Now back to the reason we are chronicling this trip. We headed to Woodford Reserve, and like the Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is also considered a historic landmark. The site itself has been their for more than 200 hundred years. Woodford Reserve has been distilling Kentucky Straight Bourbon there for the last 18. Their tasting center was remodeled in March. It looks like a large family room, with four vignettes of couches and wingback chairs, angled to appreciate the fireplace. It also included an updated tasting room and gift shop. We did this tour too, and it was one of our favorites. The stillroom was really impressive with its three custom copper stills that cost $100,000 each. When touring one of the rick houses (barrel aging warehouses), we learned that Woodford pipes in steam during the winter months, which creates additional expansion and contraction to the oak barrels, adding more cycles to the aging process. For example, their eight-year bourbon, will have similar cycles to that of one that was aged for 13 years. Another unique product is its double barrel bourbon. It was first release a couple of years ago. They take their normal aged bourbon and instead of bottling it, it goes into another new, American oak barrel for an additional 10 months of aging. This gives it a quality similar to cognac, positioned as an after-dinner, sipping spirit.

Woodford Reserve Custom Copper Stills

Woodford Reserve Custom Copper Stills

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Last stop was Wild Turkey. This place took production to a whole new level. We did not have time for a tour at Jim Beam so we are not sure of the scale difference, but this was made everything else we visited look small. Wild Turkey moved into a new production room in 2010 and is one huge facility. There were 23 fermentation vats that each held 30,000 gallons. With their new facility, wild Turkey has moved to an automated production, which is controlled by only two people. They have the ability to produce 50,000 cases a day. The rick houses were massive and in total, contain over 500,000 barrels. Fun fact: there are more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky than there are people! They have a new tasting room as well with a beautiful view of bridges that cross the Kentucky River.

Wild Turkey Fermentation

Wild Turkey Fermentation

We hit Four Roses tomorrow and start heading our way down to Tennessee.

Did you miss any of the previous days? Click Here for DAY 1 or DAY 2

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