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    Touring Woodford Reserve Distillery
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    Woodford Reserve bourbon is only two decades old, but its parent company, Brown-Forman, has been in the bourbon business since 1870. When this pre-prohibition era company began looking for a home for their new bourbon brand, they settled on the old Oscar Pepper distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky.


    Many of the buildings in the distillery were in ruins and have undergone major renovations and retrofits. Where there was a column still from the Labrot and Graham era, there is now an empty space. Woodford Reserve instead brought in copper pot stills from Forsyths in Scotland, mirroring what would have been used in the Oscar Pepper days before column stills made their way to America.

    There were only three whiskey distilleries doing public tours in the early 1990s when Woodford opened up: Jack Daniels, Dickel and Woodford Reserve, Master Distiller Chris Morris said. Now the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has expanded to include ten stops, and each of these stops continues to grow its tourist experience.

    Tourists will have the opportunity to witness fermentation in open top cypress fermenters and copper pot stills, including one historic to the Oscar Pepper Distillery that was uncovered by bourbon archeologists. Every bourbon distillery tour is unique in its own way, and the Patent Warehouses are something you won’t see at many distilleries. When the temperature inside a monitored barrel of bourbon reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit, usually around October, the steam heat is turned on, and the warehouse is heated until the temperature inside that same barrel reaches 85 degrees, when the heat is then turned off. This continues through the winter months, giving Woodford Reserve a more mature flavor than would be expected from its actual age.

    Woodford Reserve is a beautiful example of how, in the bourbon world, history is saved in a meaningful way that ties the past to the present. We see this at lots of abandoned distilleries these days, and Brown-Forman is reclaiming a part of Whiskey Row to develop the Old Forester Visitor’s Experience as well.

    If you haven’t yet gotten the Woodford Reserve Distillery stamp in your Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport, now is the time.

    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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