One of the funnest things we did over winter break was visiting Buffalo Trace Distillery for a tour and a little behind the scenes action (seen in the “Hard Hat” tour). The Mister and I have not seen enough distillery’s (so far we’ve only visited Woodford, Jim Beam, and Buffalo Trace) and really need to make more of an effort to get through more of the Bourbon Trail.
Since there was an “official” tour going on, we went a little backwards through the distillery, to avoid getting in their way. First stop, the Albert B. Blanton Bottling Hall. Blanton’s Single Barrel is one of the Mister’s “go-to” bourbons (“on the rocks please?”) so we were excited to start the tour off here. This is a stop you will see on the tour (more towards the end) so you’ll get to do/see all of the next few photos.
Literally nothing smells better than a batch of bourbon…nothing!
Not that you need to “get in there” to smell the bourbon being warmed up…the entire bottling house is full of the warm, wonderful aroma of Blanton’s!
Blanton’s is the original single barrel bourbon…single barrel meaning each barrel goes into the bottles…it is not all mixed together and then batched. Colonel Albert B. Blanton believed that the middle section of building H was the best spot to age the bourbon and would hand pick barrels, taste test them, and then have them bottled…thus turning into his special select bourbon. Building H is special building not only because that’s where Blanton’s is aged but because following the repeal of prohibition, it was built from metal and not brick (like most bourbon housing) in an effort to speed up the construction time and get back to making bourbon. I don’t want to tell you too much or I’ll spoil the tour. To learn more about Building H you can visit the Blanton’s webpage or I highly suggest getting out for tour…maybe a great Valentine’s day weekend trip with you someone special?
The race horse and jockey is now recognized as the trademark of Blanton’s Bourbon. In 1999, the first collectors edition was released and features 8 different strides of a race horse + jockey that ultimately spell out b-l-a-n-t-o-n-s when the set is complete (source blantonsbourbon.com). Word from the bottling room is that the S is the hardest to collect.
From the Blanton’s bottling house, we moved through the different steps of bourbon making at Buffalo Trace. My favorite thing about this distillery is it is a full working distillery…what you buy on the shelf, came from this location!
Who wants to take a dip in the mash??? Anyone?
(ewe, gross NO!…can you believe they even have to have this sign up?!)
All the fermenting happens naturally…all the moving bubbles and gurgling around all happening because of natural interactions. When the fermentation is finished, the top layer has this weird, calm, oil like appearance and tastes really sweet (not all that good actually…but sweet and interesting).
White dog…or whisky/bourbon, that is unaged is always so fascinating to me…coming out as clear as water! Trust me…that IS NOT water in that glass!
Making our way around the campus on this rainy, overcast afternoon, you can’t help but be in awe of the beauty of these old buildings and bourbon barrels being moved in and out. To me it’s a simply stunning sight that you can only see in Kentucky!
Moving into the famous H building, we stopped first in the “tasting room,” a spot where specific bourbon picked for specific places gets taste tested and then approved/declined…exactly like Col. Blanton did it!
From floor to ceiling it’s bourbon barrels as far as as the eye can see. Dark and mysterious…it is rumoured to be haunted by Col. Blanton. I will not confirm or deny if I heard anything spooky (wink, wink). Inside a bourbon aging house is always one of my favorite spots…all the barrels lined up, patiently waiting for their turn as they age. Remember, the middle of building H is the sweet spot for Col. Blanton’s signature single barrel bourbon, Blanton’s.
If you’ve been to Buffalo trace, then you know that the photo below is special. I don’t want to spill the beans for those who haven’t visited…so be on the lookout for this mural and be sure to watch it as you walk past (I had to walk past a few times to believe what I was seeing!)
Thank you again to Buffalo Trace and Blanton’s for having us out for an afternoon (and to our awesome, awesome tour guide)!
[ Photography by Jesse Rohr ]