After a leisurely morning and breakfast, we piled into our van and headed out for the noon Distillery Tour ($14) at Woodford Reserve. It’s a beautiful country drive through horse country, rolling hills and endless fences to Versailles, about half an hour from Lexington.
Another historic property with National Register designation, Woodford’s beautiful gray stone buildings reflect the personality of its Scottish founders. Owned today by the Brown-Forman conglomerate (based in Louisville), we watched them bottle Old Forester, helping a sister-product meet demand.
Learning about the process is interesting. I have been surprised about the smells during the cooking and fermentation process. The closest overall is the smell of banana bread. That was a surprise. We tasted the sour mash today and it was not pleasant. It’s very warm by the 100-year-old cypress fermenting tanks and the mash is a bubbling, sometimes moldy-looking, a grainy, yellow stew; not appetizing.
Once in a Rickhouse you feel as if you could become intoxicated just from the smell. The 10% evaporation during the bourbon’s first year in the barrel (and 3-5% each year after) produces the scent, known as the Angel’s Share.
The Woodford property is sophisticated and sleek with lovely grounds, leafy trees, lots of stone and dramatic triple copper pot stills. A 500-foot-long gravity-fed barrel run is still in place. After our informative tour and tasting, we enjoyed a nice lunch from Glenn’s Creek Café on the back porch before making the one-hour drive to Louisville.
In Louisville, we stayed in the elegant, historic Brown Hotel. Tonight, we enjoyed an amazing Chef’s Table dinner, in the kitchen of the English Grill. Under the stewardship of English Grill Manager Troy Ritchie (who also wears the dual hats of Wine Sommelier and Bourbon Steward), we enjoyed the handiwork of archeologist-turned-chef Dustin Willet, and server Kelly. Troy surprised us with a visit to the rooftop for a beautiful aerial view of Louisville and a sneak peek into the Mohammed Ali Suite, chock-full of Ali memorabilia (for the uninitiated, Ali was from Louisville). It was an amazing evening.
Favorite Fact: Opera singer Lily Pons let her pet lion cub roam free in her suite at The Brown Hotel.
Woodford Reserve: www.woodfordreserve.com
Bourbon Trail: www.kyboubontrail.com