Woodford Reserves is a bourbon company that’s over a couple hundred years old. Starting in 1780 and surviving through the prohibition, they offer a tour for about $14 that is 70 minutes long. It’s one of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
On the tour you learn more about bourbon and how Woodford Reserves makes it’s bourbon, with tours of the process. Their claim is that the majority of what makes Kentucky popular for horses and bourbon is the water. The limestone water is believed to make the horses stronger and the bourbon sweeter.
The tour, after a journey on a shuttle bus and some bourbon basics (ingredients and flavor profile and what makes bourbon bourbon) leads up some stairs into a rather warm space full of bubbling sour-mash, which you get to try. Maybe I didn’t get enough on my little wooden spoon but there wasn’t much to it and it was difficult to actually get a taste of/enough on the taster spoon. But it was cool seeing the giant vats of bubbling mash with fermentation happening, especially since the barrels went down through the first floor so we were only seeing the tops of them.
One of the other popular spots on the tour is of the copper stills which are rather beautiful. We paused here to get a smell of the super strong spirits during this phase. After this we learned a bit about the little greyish building nearby where government officials stayed during prohibition, with the bathroom removed because they weren’t too happy to have them as guests.
We got to smell some more things, this time bourbon in the factor and see how the gravity rolls the barrels down the hill as well as where they are stored until the master tasters check their flavor profile.
At the end of the tour we headed back to the main building and got to have a tasting.
We were given two bourbons to try and a bourbon ball. Our tour guide led us through the tasting, asking us what flavors we were tasting while we looked at a wheel of flavors that do come up in the bourbon. None of these flavors are added. All flavors come from the fermenting process, water, distilling, and aging in the barrels. Which is really interesting to think about. The two we tried were the Distiller’s Select and the Double Oaked. It was fun to try but the bourbon ball was my favorite part.
After the tour we headed back into the visitors center which has a little cafe called Glenn’s Creek Cafe which serves sandwiches, soups, salads, and snacks. Ther’s also a gift shop where you can buy bourbon and bourbon products, like more bourbon balls or mint julep mixes, since Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.
Before we left I bought some ice cream to try and tried some of the bourbon caramel corn. Both were good, though they do have other flavors of ice cream like bourbon ball, salted caramel, Kentucky blackberry and buttermilk, strawberry, superfudge, vanilla bean, mango sorbet, and dark chocolate truffle. All of these are put out by Crank and Boom and come in small containers so you probably won’t ruin your appetite, but maybe get a sucker punch to your wallet, a half a pint is $6.50.
Tours are offered Monday through Saturday from 10am until 3pm and on Sundays from 1pm until 3pm (except in January and February when on Sunday’s they’re closed). The tour doesn’t allow food or drinks except for water, water sold at Glenn’s Creek Cafe is $1.50, but you can bring your own bottled water. There also isn’t a bathroom/bathroom break during the over an hour tour but there is one available at the visitors center which is where you buy the tickets and where the tour ends/begins.
The tour is also only available to people 21 years and older, so make sure you have your ID/passport with you.