One place I plan to go back post Covid is Kentucky. While I am glad I had the time and opportunity to travel in the summer of 2020, it was not the best time to visit Kentucky distilleries. For those who are not familiar, the state actually has a Kentucky Bourbon trail you can follow and visit all the large and craft distilleries in the state. Unfortunately when I was going through in August and September of 2020 there weren’t many open and the ones that were had limited capacity, requiring you had to make reservations well in advance. On my way to the Northeast I didn’t know this and wasn’t able to make any visits. On my way home I was able to get reservations at two distilleries.
The first place I visited, Jeptha Creed, turned out to be excellent and my only criteria for choosing it was that it was open. It was a small craft distillery that offered an amazing barrel tasting experience. And it was an experience! Even if you don’t do a tasting experience I still recommend visiting because they have an amazing patio that serves food and mixed drinks, that allows dogs. I’m not quite sure how I missed getting a picture with Bella on the patio, but sadly, I did.
I do however advocate for the barrel tasting experience so you can sit in the fanciest barn, that smells like bourbon, and drink bourbon straight from the barrel, in fancy leather chairs. You start the tour on a bus at the main guest building, which takes you through the grounds, while the tour guide starts telling you the history of the distillery, and ends at a deceivingly plain looking, industrial building. The inside is amazing and at the time I was sure I found where I wanted to live. Between the comfortable chairs, nice breeze and wonderful smell, what could be better?
What makes their bourbon different is that it is made from red “Indian” corn, that they raise themselves. It gives them a unique process and taste, and lends to their main bourbon name of “Bloody Butcher.” In the barn you get more of the details on the distilling process, their other products and a tasting, multiple ways. You can even buy a single barrel bottle from the barrel of your tasting. I did buy a bottle as well as some of their other unique products like vodka flavored with real fruit and honey. At the time I visited, they were one of the few small craft distilleries that had survived Covid and had to put their growth plans on hold, so their products are not available throughout the country. But if you are in the area I highly recommend a visit and tasting to support them.
The other distillery I got to visit was a larger, well known one, Bulleit. They were not actually doing distillery tours, but they were offering tastings, so I went ahead and opted for that. While their welcome center had the same decoration scheme as the previous tasting room (barn), you could tell the barrels were empty so the smell wasn’t quite as good. It also wasn’t the same without the open doors and nice breeze. They do have a beautiful center with a gift shop that had a lot of unique products, like bourbon scented Bulleit soap.
They definitely had one of the most unique tasting experiences, because they paired each bourbon with a scent container that you smell before and after tasting, that enhances the flavors in the Bourbon, as well as changing the lighting and music for each one. I say this was one of the most unique because I had a similar experience in New York in 2014, with Whiskey Stories, which was actually the first time I had Bulleit bourbon. It was a tasting experience that pairs scents, food and mixers to different whiskeys to give you a full sensory experience. Having this kind of experience at the Bulleit distillery was definitely a full circle moment. I was also able to add to my mini camper mini bar.
One of the things that made these expereinces so great was all the people at both locations. Idealy, I would love to be able to go back and spent a fews weeks following the trail and visiting all the distulleries. Hopefully we can all get back to some level of normal, that would allow that to happen soon.
Lastly, since I didn’t have any pictures of Bella for this blog, here’s one of her drinking from a barrel………..our new rain barrel that she is certain I bought to collect all the rain water for her to drink. I was actually trying to fill my watering can for herbs, which ended up with some doggy slobber as well.