Since it’s National Bourbon Day, it seems fitting that I give y’all a recap of my time at camp!
I told y’all a few weeks ago that I was heading to Kentucky to spend time with some like-minded folks who share the same passion for spirits as I do. Besides meeting 160 of the best humans on earth, I learned a ton. I probably learned more about bourbon and whiskey in one week than I have in my 6 years in the industry. The experiences from camp are some that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
I’ll spare you the details of our time in between distillery tours, we drank well and we ate well and I loved every second.
Below is a list of distilleries I visited and what I took away from each one. I sampled many a whiskey and took many a photo. I’ll update this post with photos as soon as I can!
Large and by far the most beautiful of the distilleries, Woodford was breathtaking. From the creek (crick if your’re southern like me) running through the property to the limestone rickhouses, it was something special. Climbing a 4 story rickhouse and pulling our very own bourbon from a cask was amazing and to walk through it with Chris was remarkable too. I especially enjoyed our mini class on yeast. As a non-scientist or baker for that matter, yeast is foreign to me so to learn about strains, growth and how yeast thrives was really interesting to me!
Brown Forman Cooperage
Probably the most surprising of the tours, I was blown away by the work that it takes to raise these casks. Who knew that those fellas could build up to 5,000 in a day? In all of 5 minutes, I watch a fella but 2 together like it was nothing. The most mesmerizing part though? Watching those same casks go through the charring process. I could’ve watched those barrels roll over that fire all day.
This was one of two facilities where we got to see the bottling line, the room was so small and there were so few people in there working, I was surprised by the efficiency of those folks. Our tour guide, Jimmy was a hoot. I could’ve listened to him talk all day. Actually, my most memorable moment from that tour was sampling EH Taylor and listening to Jimmy give us a history lesson on bottled in bond in a house that was built in 1792.
Holy pretty buildings batman. Besides sitting through an amazing lunch and a tasting with John Rea, the tour was pretty spectacular. Walking into the fermenting room and seeing all those fermenters from up top was cool. It really put it into perspective seeing how much whiskey is being made at these facilities. Plus our tour guide was the cutest, I wanted to put him in my pocket and keep him forever.
Sitting in a rickhouse with Jimmy Russell will go down as one of the most memorable moments of my life. I’ve sold his brand for such a long time and to listen to him talk about his whiskey with such passion and sincerity was something I’ll always remember. Who get’s to do that? I mean to ask a legend all the questions, you’ve ever wanted to ask? That was insane. The lemonade stand and the bottled manhattan were fantastic touches, I especially enjoying waddling my ass out onto that bridge booze in hand. This might have been my favorite distillery experience of the week.
Second to Wild Turkey was my most amazing afternoon with Tom Bulleit and friends. I still can’t believe that I got to help with making a Bulleit 100% Rye and that there’s a barrel aging said whiskey with my signature on it. I mean, who does that? It didn’t hurt that the incredibly funny and charming Tom Bulleit led our tasting. As great as all that was, the thing I’ll take with me from Stitzel Weller was listening to the women at the distillery educate us on sensory tests, quality control and innovation. It’s always amazing to see women doing amazing things especially in a male dominated industry.
If you guys ever get the chance to visit any of the distilleries, do it. Taste the things, take the photos, it’s all worth it!
Happy Bourbon Day, Y’all!