Woodford Reserve, Wallace Station, Lexington KY
Kentucky and Bourbon are pretty much synonymous. If you’re a Bourbon lover (or you love someone who is), you must make it over to Woodford Reserve.
Three different tours are available. There’s the Educational Distillery Tour, the National Landmark Tour and a Corn-to-Cork Tour. Not all versions are available every day, so check the Woodford Reserve website for specific times.
We chose the educational tour, and donned the accompanying headphones so as not to miss a moment of what our guide had to share. (We also looked pretty cool.) He covered the history of bourbon, unique features of Woodford, as well as the bottling process. There was also a fairly sophisticated tasting, for guests 21 and older.
Fun Fact: Woodford Reserve employs a taster whose palate can detect upwards of 200 different notes. She and the Master Distiller personally sign off on every barrel. (How can we apply for that job?)
When you walk into the distillery, the scents hit you immediately. Expect your senses to be awakened by delicious aromas of citrus, caramel, corn, barley and beyond. Your guide will talk you through the entire bourbon-making process, which you’ll also witness up-close and first-hand … including a viewing of their custom-made, iconic copper pot stills. Even if you’re not a bourbon drinker, it’s truly fascinating to watch it all come together, down to the painting of the barrel lot numbers.
We were fortunate to receive two samples for tasting – the Distiller’s Select and the Double Oaked. Both were smooth, warm and delectable. Our tour guide told us the best way to sample bourbon. It may sound strange, but bite into a piece of Parmesan Reggiano first. This brings forward more of the spicy notes, because your mouth is coated by the cheese fat.
We were proud to catch a ripe note of banana. (Seriously, can we get that job now?) A far cry from 200, but we are well on our way. Bring on the tastings, please.
Stop by the gift shop in the beautiful visitor’s center for bourbon-themed trinkets, including personalized labels.
When you’re done at the distillery, head over to locally-acclaimed restaurant Wallace Station. It’s a short 15-minute drive away, and well worth the stop. On the registry of historical places in Kentucky, Wallace Station has also been featured on the Food Network.
Transformed from an old general store, the restaurant retains its original magic. It’s a bakery and deli, offering local specials, salads and soups, sandwiches and burgers. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also offer catering.
The bread is homemade, the sandwiches are huge, and the salads are generous in portion. Everything here is ‘just like Grandma used to make.’ We sampled the Greek Salad, Mediterranean Wrap, Classic Wally Burger … and two cookies (the Sorghum and the Woodford) for good measure.
Wallace Station is part of a family of restaurants by Chef Ouita Michael, including Glen Creek Cafe at Woodford Reserve and the Windy Corner Market. Put these on your list if you have a few meals to go.
Woodford Reserve is located at 7855 McCracken Pike in Versailles, KY. To learn more, please call (859) 879-1812. Wallace Station is on the Bourbon Trail at 3854 Old Frankfort Pike in Versailles, KY. Call (859) 846-5161 for daily specials or more information.
– Ashley Kahn Salley
Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels