It took over two years, but Sarah and I diligently visited eight distilleries that are (or were) participants of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We started in May 2008 at Buffalo Trace, outside of Lexington, and finished last November at Four Roses in Lawrenceburg, and there were several more distilleries in between.
The eight distilleries were:
- Buffalo Trace (no longer a participant in the passport program)
- Maker’s Mark
- Woodford Reserve
- Tom Moore (no longer a participant in the passport program)
- Heaven Hill
- Jim Bean
- Wild Turkey
- Four Roses
The tours ranged from very short primers to extended tours lasting hours. For example, the tours at Jim Beam and Wild Turkey were very short, consisting of a brief explanation of how they make bourbon followed by a couple of free samples. Heaven Hill’s was even shorter. We just file into a barrel-shaped tasting room to taste a few of their offerings.
On the other hand, the tour at Tom Moore lasted nearly four hours on a very ugly functionally designed factory with no tasting. Woodford Reserve, although also a very long tour, was on a beautiful piece of land and was a much better experience. We gladly paid for the five-dollar Corn to Cork tour there, and it was a treat, especially since you get to see the whole process and sample along the way.
In either case, part of the appeal of going to all of these distilleries is the passport program. Once you get your passport stamped from all of the participating distilleries, you get a free gift (a t-shirt, if I recall). After finishing our last tour at Four Roses in November 2010, we dispatched our passports to the processing office for our free gifts. We thought it would take a month or two, but it is now August, and there’s still no sign of our gifts.
I just thought about this today, so I’m going to write them a letter and ask them nicely to send our gifts.
In the meantime, I’d like everyone to see that we did indeed go to all of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, even ones that have left the program.