There is a stretch of highway in Kentucky called the Bourbon Trail and is home to some of the finer Bourbon distilleries in the world. From Makers Mark to Woodford Reserve this is the home of Bourbon. On my way to Knoxville I took a detour and stopped in at the Woodford Reserve distillery, the oldest and smallest in the area. Built in 1812 today it produces only 21 barrels of whiskey a day compared to Jack Daniel’s which produces 2100-2400 barrels a day. I stopped in and took the tour to see how they “micro brew” their fine whiskey.
It all starts with a slurry of water, corn, some grains and yeast. Unlike most distilleries which use large stainless steel vats they use open vats made from Cypress wood.
From there it goes to distilling. At Woodford they triple distil it in three large copper vats.
From there it goes into a barrel…
…rolls down a set of rails to the barrel house…
…where they are stored. Unlike most whiskey’s which are aged for a set number of years, Woodford ages it until it tastes right but a minimum of 5 years. This takes different lengths of time based on the wood. Some barrels are ready after 6 years, some take up to 13 years.
Once it is done aging, the barrels are emptied and bottled.