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    Eat & Swig

    Bourbon Tourism Is For The Whole Family!
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    There’s a huge misconception about bourbon tourism, even among those of us who live in the middle of it.  Many people believe bourbon tourism is either just a boring factory tour or that it’s like Napa Valley where vineyards are right next to each other and all you do is drink to excess.  Both are incorrect.  Bourbon is a major part of our culture and our heritage, and there’s no better way to learn about either than by visiting one of these living pieces of history.

    What’s more, there’s a ton of stuff that kids can learn by visiting distilleries.  I’ve been advocating for including your kids in your bourbon tourism activities for a couple of years now.  This weekend I took my kids to Buffalo Trace for a tour that was specifically designed for kids.  We were joined by three other families with kids ranging in age from 5 to 14, both boys and girls.

    Our tour was led by Freddie Johnson.  Johnson is the third generation of his family to work at the distillery.  He’s also the distillery historian and tour guide, and a treasure of the bourbon culture.  I remember hearing him talk about taking 4-H groups on distillery tours at the 2014 Bourbon Classic and having that “aha” moment: bourbon tourism is for the whole family!

    We started off by learning that the four roads that lead into Frankfort were created by buffalo, which led to an adorable discussion among the younger kids about the difference between bison and buffalo and their migration habits (did you know that hump on their backs makes them really great swimmers?!).

    We had an art lesson about linear perspective.  There’s a painting at the distillery that was painted by an employee.  When there isn’t enough work to do (which probably isn’t often these days), employees are encouraged to use their other talents to contribute.  We learned about the engineering abilities of the settlers who built the original buildings in the distillery.  They used red oak to make the ricks in the stone warehouse because they knew it was a termite’s least favorite wood to eat.  And the way Warehouse C was constructed- with the ricks built separately from the outside structure- was the main reason no bourbon was lost in the tornado that ripped off the roof.

    Madison Kirby, a JCPS middle school student, had this to say about the tour: “I enjoyed learning how so many different jobs contribute to the distillery.  I also liked learning how 7 feet tall buffalo carved the paths to what is now Buffalo Trace. I recommend families to bring their children to the distilleries because they are not just about what goes into a bottle; there is a lot of amazing history and science to go along with it.”

    Bennett Haara said, "My favorite thing from the tour was tasting Dr. McGillicuddy’s Root Beer.  I also liked rolling empty barrels," a sentiment echoed by all the younger kids.  Rolling barrels is fun stuff!  His sister Madeline added, "I was really surprised that the warehouse didn’t have more damage after getting hit by a tornado, especially since it was so old.  I also wondered how the first distillers had the idea to burn the insides of barrels, which seems like a really weird idea to me.  Freddie helped explain these things, even to the little kids."

    Kids are always welcome at Buffalo Trace, and guides are happy to accommodate them with root beer and bungs.  It’s a great place to take a field trip or scout troop to learn about Kentucky’s history and heritage in a fun way.

    Check out the Sipp'n Corn blog's coverage of the tour here.

    Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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