Today we began our day back at Rick's White Light Diner for "The Best Eggs Benedict." A wonderful meal and a great atmosphere and fun conversation with Rick…same as before, only this time Kevin got to go! He thought it was was even better than I'd built it up to be. Plus, Rick made our eggs benedict with his homemade bread instead of the regular english muffins he uses and I think that's really what made them The Best (that and the perfect eggs and perfect hollandaise). My opinion is that he should ditch the english muffins and charge an extra dollar for making this dish using his bread. Thanks again Rick–your place is a gem!
We headed over to Woodford Reserve Distillery next (it was almost noon). The tour at Woodford was good, in that it was informative and the grounds were beautiful.
Not so good in that our tour guide was a bit cheesy and garnered many an eye roll from the captive audience, and the tasting at the end was pretty impersonal and not really much of a tasting. (After paying $7 per person for the tour/tasting while all the other distilleries are free to tour/taste–we expected a bit more). But when you return from the tour, you just walk cattle-style past the bar to pick up your little plastic shot glass with a taste and move on. No one was there talking to you about what you were drinking, and all they gave you to taste was the Woodford Reserve that you can buy in the store — none of the Four Oaks or Double Oaked — which had we been able to taste them we might have bought, but we instead left with nothing.
Copper pot stills:
Barrel with stenciled logo:
Barrel rolling tracks:
It was interesting…this facility is fairly small, yet they were just cranking out the tours. There were tons of people (it was a Saturday, I realize), with a tour about every half hour or 45 minutes. They had a shuttle bus that went from the upper house to the lower distillery, aging warehouse, and bottling room. They called your tour number on a loudspeaker and you were ushered into a large room to get set up with your personal receiver and headphones that you wore around your neck so you could hear your tour guide even in the way back. It was all so efficient and organized (which was kinda cool) and made it feel like a much larger operation than it was. But it also gave the feeling like you were just moving through a machine and not like you were at a craft bourbon distillery to see how they do stuff and taste what they make. (And I'd have preferred the walk rather than the hassle of getting on a shuttle bus just to ride down the hill, honestly.)
Beautiful facility though (and the bourbon's good). There's a big porch and patio outside the tasting room/gift shop with a long row of rocking chairs looking out over the grounds.
These glasses were part of a display of bourbon history and (sadly) not in the gift shop:
After Woodford we headed down to Four Roses. We did the 2pm tour which started in a room with a film about the distillery, its history, and how they make their bourbon. They started the Buffalo Trace tour with a film like this, too, and I think it's a great idea. Even if it's really just a long commercial, it gets across some of the key concepts (that people might or might not know) at the beginning so the tour guide doesn't have to start at Step 1 every single time.
We then headed outside with our tour guide (she was great!) and wandered the distillery.
The Four Roses Distillery was built in 1910 and has a unique Spanish Mission-Style architecture rarely seen in Kentucky. (It's also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.)
We ended the tour in the tasting room for a proper tasting. We tasted the Four Roses Yellow Label first (basic, or as our tour guide/pourer says: "your Monday through Friday bourbon"). Next came the Four Roses Small Batch (Tour Guide: "your Saturday bourbon), and then the Four Roses Single Barrel (Tour Guide: the "Sip All Day on Sunday and hide when relatives come over" bourbon). We bought a bottle of Small Batch and Single Barrel…both were great.
Of the three bourbon distillery tours we did during our time here in Kentucky, we rated them #1 Buffalo Trace, then #2 Four Roses, then #3 Woodford–in case anyone was wondering. We have not yet rated the bourbons, just the tours.
We grabbed some barbecue in Lexington at City Barbeque (it's a chain, but it had good reviews and it was yum) and then we headed bank to Frankfort.
We got back the Airstream and the Saturday Potluck at the campground here was going full force (live country music and everything!) We decided to make a fire in our fire pit and sit out on the deck behind the Airstream (the deck right on the Kentucky River!) and enjoy the music and party sounds with a little bourbon in our new kitschy tasting glasses that we picked up today. Aren't they cute?
We're kinda bummed we still haven't gotten to the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville though, so I think when we leave tomorrow we'll stop there on the way out since they've got a big parking lot. 🙂