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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Woodford Reserve, Kentucky, USA

A distillery was opened on this site by Elijah Pepper in 1812 and according to legend (or the marketing department) is the site where Dr Crow "perfected" bourbon.  Now owned by Brown Forman (of Jack Daniel's fame) you could literally pick up this distillery and drop into Speyside and it would not look out of place, with it's picturesque setting, stone stillhouse and copper pots stills from Forsythe's of Rothes.  This was exactly what I had imagined a bourbon distillery to be.  They had picked up a  few other ideas from Scotland as well, such as charging $7 for a tour, the first and only time I was charged on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and having a convenient lunch / coffee shop in the visitors center.  The tour was well organized with a short video and then a bus ride from the plush visitor center down to the actual distillery and a guide equiped with a mini PA system so all could hear him.  The tour focussed on the components that make up the distinctive sweet taste of Woodford Reserve, the grains, the yeast (one of many distileries that mentioned criticality of yeast) the stills and distillation process (Woodford Reserve uniquely triple distills their bourbon), the casks and of course the maturation.  Seeing the still house wtih three pot stills was definately unique on the KBT.  Another highlight was seeing the fermentation process because the day we toured they were actually making an unusual mash which will be part of a future Masters Collection and included chocolate roasted rye so it was much darker than usual yellow corn mashes I saw on the tours.  Then the mandatory bottling hall part of tour to watch Collingwood Canadian Whiskey being bottled... (something to do with similar bottle shape and Borwn Forman plant capacity).  After the highlight of watching and hearing some Canadian whiskey being bottled the tour concluded back in vistor center with a shot glass of Woodford Reserve (you get to keep the plastic shot glass!) and a chocolate!  All in all a very good tour and along with Maker's Mark was one of the highlights.

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Tullibardine, Blackford, Scotland

Tullibardine, Blackford, Scotland On vacation in Scotland but your wife and family don't want to visit a distillery? Well located halfway between Perth and Stirling on the busy A9, near the famous Gleneagles Hotel and within easy reach of Edinburgh and Glasgow is Tullibardine.   This is the perfect distillery location because of the large Baxter's store next door.  Baxter's is a Scottish store with food, wine, Scottish goods and more than enough other stuff to keep wives, daughters or anyone not interested in whisky busy, while you slip away for 45 minutes to tour a great little distillery and taste a dram or two.  An interesting place with a long history as a brewery going all the way back to 1488 before being converted to a distillery by the famous (and apparently locally infamous) William Delme Evans, who also built the Isle of Jura distillery.  Another claim to fame is that they have same water source as Britain's largest bottled water supplier, Highland Spring, which is bottled in Blackford as well.  Most of the spirit is taken for blending and maturation elsewhere but there is a small warehouse on site and they tend to release Tullibardine single malts by vintage rather than by age statement, and various vintages are available to sample at end of tour.  It is also one of the few distilleries that sells their new make spirit.
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