The Stitzel-Weller Distillery barrels the Bulleit brand (not a misspelling, though I acknowledge I have frequent words misspelled) bourbons and ryes. On the Southside of Louisville they have the "Bulleit Bourbon Experience" on the grounds of the Old Fitzgerald distillery, which shut down in the early '90s. There is a still there now that is producing experimental recipes and a warehouse aging barrels. It was an okay tour, going in the aging warehouse was neat, smelled great.
In the tasting room we tried: the signature Bulleit Bourbon orange label (you can tell they use more rye than other distillers, a good non-premium bourbon), the Bulleit Rye green label (tasty, Leslie liked it a lot and things it will make a good Manhattan, a good quality whiskey at a pretty good price) and the Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon (over 91 proof, nice caramel, a bit of water have me the mellow I needed with the higher proof).
From Bulleit we headed about fifteen minutes down the road to an interesting place that abuts the University of Louisville. A place called Churchill Downs. We took a brief tour of the place, were given a lot of history of the track and the Kentucky Derby, saw a great movie and looked at some exhibits. It was set up pretty well and I'm sure for house racing enthusiasts it is for them what Cooperstown (or the Louisville Slugger plant) is to me.
Our next destination was south on the I-65 to the town of Clermont, home to Jim Beam. On the way we found a small sandwich so on the edge of the UK campus. (For Sharon: really good chicken salad on Texas Toast for me, egg, lox, capers on sea salt bagel for Leslie.)
Jim Beam sells more bourbon than anyone else. The have several brands they make, some of which are the excellent, among them Booker's, Knob Creek, Baker 's.
This tasting will be hard to top. They give you a card with a small chip, each card is good for two half ounce pours. In the tasting room are two stands with four sides. In each of the side are four bottles, at the top of each bottle is a little spigot then in the top of the stand is a place to put in your card. You put in your card and above each of the four bottles a little panel lights up. You put you shot glass under the spigot of the bottle you want to try, press the button above that bottle and your shot is poured into your glass. See the picture of Leslie belle to get an idea of the bourbon vending machine.
What was really great about it was they had all their premium brands, along with the lesser levels and all the flavored crap, I mean brands. So we could try Bookers, Knob Creek Rye, Bakers and Jim Beam White Label Single Barrel since between Leslie and I we had four tastes. We bypassed Hayden 's because it's in my bar. I am interested to see if other distilleries provide us tastes of such premium brands.
Tasting notes: Bookers, excellent, if you can spend the money but it and you will be rewarded with a very smooth and flavorful bourbon. Knob Creek Rye, I really liked it, Leslie liked the Bulleit Rye better, I think I like this a bit more--could be because I had an excellent bourbon before I tasted it. Bakers, like the Booker's very smooth with great flavor. Jim Beam White Label Single Barrel, a lot better than their mass produced product, very good to drink.
On the property was a small shack selling some barbecue and other items, one of which was Graeter's ice cream from Cincinnati. We've been fortunate to have Graeter's before, it is one of the best anywhere (one year for Leslie's birthday I had four pints delivered). We had a chip with half peach and half boubon chip (with chunks of chocolate and pecans). Mmmmm.
By now it was about 4:30 and no time to sample any where else do we drive a short distance into Bardstown. The Welcome to Bardstown sign claims it to be the bourbon capital of the world as well as being voted most beautiful small town in America. From what we've seen hard to dispute either.
Dinner was a southern supper at Kurtz. They've been around since 1937, used to be kitchen and dining room on the ground floor and family living on the second floor. Great dinner, Leslie had skillet fried chicken, white meat with mashed potatoes and gravy. I had the Kentucky Combination, also a quarter chicken fried (dark meat), with fried Virginia ham. We shared a delicious biscuit pudding with a bourbon raisin sauce. I asked for a beer with dinner but they can't serve alcohol on Sundays. Unless it is in the bourbon raisin sauce.....
|One of the aging warehouses at Bulleit|
|The inside of the aging warehouse smells so good|
|Leslie a little happier after our Bulleit tasting|
|Leslie demonstrates the bourbon vending machine at Jim Beam|
|So creamy and delicious|
|Seems our dog has a side business we didn't know about....|