Thursday, July 20, 2017

While They Were Horsing Around . . . We Went On A Field Trip

Last Saturday, while Leah and Tash went to Breyerfest, Abby and I headed off to a place where they take corn, rye and barley and use them for a more glorious and noble purpose:

Yes, we drove a few miles out of Lexington to visit the Buffalo Trace Distillery. One of the oldest distilleries in America, it makes many fine products.

It was pretty busy that Saturday and while all the reserved tours were cancelled as they were on Summer shut down so some areas were not available to be seen, such as the huge mash tanks, but they did offer a free 1 hour tour that we took.

First we went to the visitor's center and then the old firehouse that has been changed into a sandwich shop - we had some excellent hot dogs and root beer before going on our tour.

The tour was led by a very friendly and knowledgeable gentleman who is a University folklorist in his regular job.

We learned how the distillery was one of 4 that were allowed to operate during Prohibition, making medicinal spirits that could be acquired in limited quantities via a doctor's prescription. The solution of course was to have a large family with each of the kids getting a scrip so the parents would have at least something to drink.

We saw a nicely produced film on the distillery and how whiskey is made and how they use different variations in the mash to get different products. The mash is fermented and then distilled, and then aged in new charred oak barrels.

This is Warehouse Cone of the storage houses where the barrels of whiskey are aged. Each floor gives the whiskey a different quality - the upper floors have larger temperature swings so the quicker maturing whiskies are located there. Buffalo Trace tends to be on the middle floors and product like Weller and Pappy Van Winkle resides in the basement.

Note how the racks are actually built into the walls. The building survived a tornado in 2006 that tore the rook off but otherwise did not harm the buiding - it apparently created a very fine whiskey that year as a result and they're trying to replicate the effects of the storm on the shiskey even today.

We then entered Warehouse C, labelled as Bonded Storage Building C

And within the building:

Barrel upon barrel of Whiskey slowly aging to perfection in the dark, hence the lousy photo. We were on the lowest floor and saw barrels that might, should they meet quality standards, become Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year - aged 23 years and the barrel loses 30% of its volume the first year and 3% or so each year thereafter - that's why Pappy's is rather rare and expensive. They don't make much and if it doesn't meet their standards its not released. The building had a lovely smell of whiskey all about it.

After that we got to see the bottling facility and some Blanton's Single Barrel that had just been bottled and packaged for shipping.

then off to the tasting room for a sample.

You could try 2 of either Buffalo Trace, White Dog Mash, Wheatly Vodka, or Eagle Rare. I tried some White Dog Mash and Eagle Rare. The White Dog - unaged Whiskey fresh from the still had a sweetish corn taste and at 125 proof went down rather well when sipped, or when others tried to slam it a coughing fit that was rather humorous to watch.

The Eagle Rare, a Bourbon aged for 10 years was very nice and refined indeed.

Then everyone got some Bourbon Cream, a drink like Irish Cream, but better, as a dessert.

Abby contented herself with a free Root Beer that she enjoyed quite nicely as in lieu of alcohol as they gave her a rather large and cold glass of the quite tasty root beer.

Then we went to the visitor's center again and I picked up a bottle of Bourbon Cream and a T-shirt to take home and that was our visit to Buffalo Trace.

It was a darn good trip and if you're ever visiting the Lexington area, the Buffalo Trace distillery is well worth visiting.


Old NFO said...

Looks like you both had fun! :-)

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

Now that I will keep in mind
Thanks for the tip

Aaron said...

Old NFO: that we did!

Mr. Garabaldi: The distillery is worth a visit if you're in the area. Great tour, great history and great whiskey.