The road curls through liquid hills of kelly green, flecked with horses, lined with miles of sturdy wood fences. We were following signs, way-markers if you will, along a scenic highway eight miles from Versailles, Kentucky. They discreetly announced the path we should follow through the early fall landscape. It seemed a long way, as is often the case when locating a place the first time. And then the buildings--not barns--but old limestone walls with narrow arched windows, rose two-stories out of the valley, with various additions reaching another two- or three-stories on top. We had arrived.
Even if you're not inclined to the hard stuff, touring a facility like this one grabs your interest. First, this distillery operated before prohibition, that lackluster time in American history when someone thought they could legislate morality. It didn't work, but it changed the lives of people in this area. Folks with jobs became folks without jobs. They were forced to move on.
It was built by the hands of
The tour starts with a bus ride downhill to the first building where grains become mash, and mash becomes bourbon.
Inside the first limestone building, built in 1838 (distilling began on the site in 1780), 7500 gallon wooden barrels hold fragrant mash.
Your guide describes each step of the process as you climb stairs so you can see into the barrels. The golden mash bursts into bubbles, and you're warned not to stick your nose over the rim as the gaseous emissions can cause blackouts. (Fair warning!!)
When the proper fermentation stage is reached, the mash is ready for piping into magnificent copper stills.
More info on the Woodford Reserve distillery:
From Lexington Herald Reader