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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Wild Turkey, Kentucky, USA

Confession time, I did not take the distillery tour.  This was my sixth and final stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and I did go to the Visitor Center and get my KBT passport stamped and completed, but I arrived around 1pm and the next tour was not until 2:30pm.  However the nice people at the distillery suggested I watch a video they use at start of tour and join the tasting when the 12:30 tour got back.  As there was no tour for another 90 minutes and no cafe or similar where I could eat lunch, I accepted their offer.  The video was the "usual fare" with father and son Jimmy and Eddie Russell taking the viewer on a virtual tour of the distillery stage by stage, however before the video finished the tour group came back and the tasting began.  Wild Turkey had the best choice of any distillery I visited on the KBT, and we were invited to choose  two samples from the full range of bourbon and rye whiskies, standard and premium brands.  I chose one of my favorites, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the Russell Reserve Rye.   They also sold a nice range of mini bottles (I bought the Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed and their American Honey liqueur) in their gift shop.

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Bowmore, Islay, Scotland

Bowmore, Islay, Scotland

Probably my favorite distillery tour and experience to date. I visited in July 2010 and after a couple of days touring Islay’s distilleries Tammy and Eleanor had seen enough and let me go alone, with a plan to meet in the tasting room at end of the tour. It turned out it was the last tour of the day and I was the only person who signed up, so it felt like I had the entire place to myself and my guide was happy to indulge every question I had, and without larger group I could indulge myself in the minutia of the place. Effectively it was a private tour of Bowmore, and the notes I took that day show that being alone had liberated my inner “whisky anorak” who normally stays safely hidden in the group tours. Not only was the tour perfect, but the subsequent tasting in a great room overlooking the Loch was well organized, fun, informative and innovative (they gave food samples like coconut, chocolate and raisins to help match tastes in the whisky). We tried a range of whiskies from their parent company, Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and of course Bowmore. Perhaps with it being the last tour of the day they were also generous with pours and allowed us to retry samples while giving our daughter sweets and juice to keep her happy as well. Personally I fell in love with the rich, highly sherried Bowmore Darkest 15 year old that afternoon, and while it has never tasted quite as good as it did that perfect day in the distillery, it is still a 4 star whisky for me and my “go to” Bowmore.

If you go to Islay and only do one tour (which would not be a great idea in itself, stay and do more) I would say do this one and I can only hope you have same great experience I did.

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