Experiencing Annual Happenings and One-Time Extravaganzas

-KY-Bourbon Trail

Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour – Frankfort KY

113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, Franklin County KY

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This distillery has an amazing history, continuously distilling bourbon for over 200 years – even during the prohibition years. After being on the Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam tours focusing on how bourbon is made ( you can only hear that bourbon has to be made with a minimum of 51% corn so many times…) at Buffalo Trace I signed up for the National Historic Landmark Tour.

Being an architect I was of course interested in the historic buildings in this complex, but this tour also shared the history of the storied brands that have been released at Buffalo Trace, and the stories of the people that made it all happen. These stories included the famous familiar names on the bottles as well as the people behind the scenes that have worked at the distillery and enjoyed the comaraderie of being part of the Buffalo Trace family.

Our tour guide was Freddie Johnson. If you go on this tour, try at all cost to get Freddie as your tour guide. Having basically grown up at the distillery, he has first hand insight and experiences that he shares as only he can. His father and grandfather were key lifelong employees at Buffalo Trace for decades. James B. Johnson Sr., Freddie’s grandfather started working at the distillery in 1912 and was one of the first African-American foreman in Kentucky. Col. Blanton entrusted him to operate the distillery, and was his right hand man at business meetings. Freddie’s father James B. Johnson Jr., perfected the ability to repair leaking barrels, and became Warehouse Supervisor, again the first African American  to hold that position in Kentucky. Freddie conveys the history of this special place in a very personal, engaging way.

The buildings in this complex are impressive. Strong masonry warehouses and production buildings that literally span centuries are clustered along the river. Even though this is a working distillery, still producing some the best bourbon in Kentucky, you can walk around and just feel the unique history that was made in these buildings by Col. Blanton, Col. E. H. Taylor, Pappy Van Winkle, Elmer T. Lee, George T. Stagg, and of course Freddie Johnson and his family.

Highly recommended!

For additional photos of the architecture from my tour see my Architecture Blog

Buffalo Trace Website


Woodford Reserve Distillery – Versailles KY

Versailles KY

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After  a very scenic drive, and entering the distillery property through a gated entry I arrived at the Woodford Reserve Visitor’s Center. The building surprisingly resembles a suburban condo development clubhouse. It is nestled high on the property, overlooking a complex of old orange clay tile and grey stone warehouses low in the river valley. I did not have time to go on a tour here, therefore could not taste test the Woodford Reserve libations, but did walk into the Visitor’s Center and found myself surrounded by all manner of branded logo merchandise for sale.

I did purchase a special edition Woodford Reserve “Sweet Mash Dedux” which I am looking forward to cracking open and sampling soon.

Woodford Reserve Website

Wild Turkey Distillery – Lawrenceburg KY

Lawrenceburg KY

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Visited October 2015

As an architect, this Visitor’s Center was one of the highlights of the Bourbon Trail. What a spectacular new building, that fits into the Kentucky black barn vernacular, is beautifully detailed and elevates the bourbon tasting experience – the tasting room is at the top of the central ramp with a panoramic view across the river valley.

See my post on my architectural blog HERE for a detailed description and additional photos of this special building.

Four Roses Distillery – Lawrenceburg KY

1224 Bonds Mill Rd., Lawrenceburg KY

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Visited October 2015

Willett Distillery – Bardstown KY

1869 Loretto Rd., Bardstown KY 40004

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Visited October 2015

Willett Website

Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour – Loretto KY

3350 Burks Spring Road Loretto KY

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Maker’s Mark Distillery Website

Copper & Kings Distillery Tour – Louisville KY

Louisville KY

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Visited October 6, 2015