The aftermost time I was travelling in these pages, it was on a two-wheeled bout of Islay’s eight distilleries. Now I’m on addition spirit-inspired journey, but this time I’ve arranged my passport, I’ve appointed four auto – and the whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’.
I’m hitting the Kentucky Bourbon Aisle for a fact-finding cruise forth with Scotch Malt Whisky Society ambassador, Phoebe Brookes. The US accompaniment is home to what Congress has appointed as “America’s built-in spirit”, and area the faculty of pride in the artefact is on a par with our accord with Scotch.
Our aisle begins in burghal Louisville, area everywhere we about-face there is affirmation of distilling and bourbon. The Whiskey Row attic apartments are aing aperture to the new Old Forester distillery, cooperage and company centre, which alone opened its doors in June this year.
Beyond the street, there’s addition afresh opened distillery and company centre for Angel’s Envy. Further bottomward the artery is the Distilled Alcohol Epicenter, home to Moonshine University, Grease Monkey distillery and its own bottling line, area you can abstraction every aspect of distilling.
At Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, bout adviser Ally is absolutely accomplishing his adventure justice. There’s a Hollywood-style assembly about the Welshman who set up the area’s aboriginal bartering distillery in the 1780s, followed by a attending at the building’s artisan distillery in operation.
Area Evan Williams is a custom-built day-tripper attraction, Buffalo Trace in the accompaniment basic of Frankfort is both a active architecture – and a bourbon-producing giant. The oldest allotment of the distillery on the banks of the Kentucky River dates aback to 1792, and in 2013 the armpit was appointed a National Celebrated Landmark.
Assembly is now about three actor cases annually, and affairs are underway to body an added 50 warehouses over the aing 10 years to aggrandize production, as appeal continues to outstrip supply. In the meantime, Buffalo Trace brands such as Blanton’s, Weller, Stagg Jr and E H Taylor are in abbreviate accumulation – and if you’re analytic for a Pappy Van Winkle…good luck. Fans are still discussing the annexation in 2013 of 195 bottles of Pappy 20-year-old – which now sells for about £1,500 a bottle.
We booty a airing with bout adviser Freddie Johnson, who adds added colour to Buffalo Trace than alike the best heavily broiled anytime could. Freddie’s grandfathering was a foreman actuality from 1912 to 1964, aback he anesthetized on responsibilities to his son, who additionally spent his alive activity at the distillery. Freddie fabricated his way in the accumulated apple until demography aboriginal retirement to acknowledgment to Frankfort and attending afterwards his father. He again accomplished the 94-year-old’s dying ambition that Freddie backpack on the family’s affiliation with Buffalo Trace.
“I’ve been about this abode aback I was a little kid with my grandfather, accepting in everybody’s way,” he says. “Now I’m honoured to accumulate the affiance I fabricated to my father, that I’d additionally assignment actuality one day.”
The aflame bottle and animate anatomy of Alltech’s Boondocks Branch in the centre of Lexington is addition absolutely altered distillery experience. It began by bearing beer and then, with two pot stills from Scotland in place, it distilled its aboriginal whisky in 2008. It’s now bearing a barillet backbone and non-chill filtered distinct bourbon, as able-bodied as the Pearse Lyons Reserve – the aboriginal malt whiskey produced in Kentucky in about 100 years, apparently.
We drive bristles account beyond boondocks to cull up in yet addition altered apple of distilling. If you’re attractive for a case of the bang in ability production, Butt House is a prime candidate. It’s tucked abroad in the barn of celebrated agent James E Pepper, and aback ambience up boutique in 2006 it has led the about-face of what’s now accepted as Lexington’s ‘distillery district’.
Area there were alone warehouses, there is now a alive artistic affiliation with a brewery, restaurants, coffee shops and studios. Beards and tattoos aren’t compulsory, but appreciated.
Chad Burns is manning operations alone aback we appearance up, but a bout doesn’t booty continued aback you alone accept one babyish still and beneath than 50 barrels sitting in your warehouse. Chad tells us how Butt House started out with its Devil John Moonshine, Pure Blue Vodka, and Oak Rum. “It’s age-old in bourbon barrels, so if bourbon and rum were to accept a baby, this is it,” he says. “But now we’ve appear our aboriginal accumulation of bourbon, RockCastle – it’s the aboriginal produced actuality in 60 years, so we’re actual excited.”
The aing day, we set ourselves up with the affectionate of affable breakfast you can alone acquisition in an all-American diner, followed by a meandering drive through the affection of Kentucky’s horse ancestry countryside.
It’s bright area the absolute money in the accompaniment comes from. The ranches actuality are arty and immaculate, amidst by afar of white blockade fences, every brand of grass altogether trimmed. Breeders say the region’s limestone affluent baptize produces bluegrass that is affluent in calcium, and builds able basic in the horses. Distillers affirmation the aforementioned abundant limestone basic is what makes their bourbon aftertaste so good.
At Keeneland racetrack, trainer Ron Carmichael is authoritative abiding the horses cantankerous cautiously from the stables. At 79, he tells me that he’s assuredly accessible to retire afterwards a lifetime’s affiliation with the course. He’s advancing to booty his aboriginal cruise to “the old country” to trace the Carmichael ancestors aback to their abandonment in the 1700s…and sample some Scotch while he’s there.
On the drive to Tennessee we leave the official Bourbon Aisle to cantankerous an all-embracing time area – accepting an hour in the action – and canyon over into a altered mural altogether.
From the rolling blooming hills of Kentucky, the acreage now spreads out in a adulate and beneath acutely manicured state. Kentucky is as bland and able as the bourbon it produces. By comparison, Scotland – and its spirit – feels abundant wilder and added challenging. Driving beyond this terrain, it’s adamantine not to see a alternation amid the mural and the affectionate of spirit it produces.
We arch south to the boondocks of Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniel’s aback the 1830s. It’s the oldest registered distillery in the US, and its Old No.7 Brand Tennessee Whiskey is the best all-over spirit to appear out of the US. Just don’t alarm it bourbon.
“If you aftertaste our whiskey afore and afterwards our charcoal crumbling process, you’ll see it’s badly different, on the adenoids and on the palate,” adept distiller Jeff Arnett tells us. “Without that process, the appearance of our alcohol would be added like bourbon, but afterwards crumbling it moves advanced on the tongue, into the candied zone.”
We can almost blemish the apparent of the Lynchburg distillery, which holds about 2.3 actor barrels in 87 warehouses. The Scotch industry is the better recipient, demography the barrels that can alone be acclimated already in the US to age whiskies in Scotland.
“I acquaint bodies that if there’s a Scotch you like, it’s apparently because there are about three gallons of Jack Daniel’s blood-soaked in it!” says Jeff. “The comes in actuality at about 95lbs and leaves at about 115, so about 20lbs of weight accretion is whiskey that soaks in. That’s the amends we pay as the aboriginal user.”
The driver cartage slows our advance aback to Nashville, area the AT&T Architecture pierces the sky like Batman’s mask. In a blatant burghal arena its country music ancestry at abounding volume, Corsair distillery is tucked abroad in the old redbrick Marathon Motorworks building, aggravating to be annihilation added than blatant or false.
Phoebe and I t up with agent Will Atkinson’s tour, to apprehend a no-holds barred acknowledgment of Corsair’s actuality – and why barter should be alert of the labelling on some added ability distillers.
“People charge to apperceive that generally the antecedent of alcohol for assorted distillers is from the aforementioned MGP distillery in Indiana, although they are not cellophane about it on their labels,” he tells our group. “We don’t buy a bead from those guys.”
He’s additionally amount of actuality about Corsair’s access to ripping up the rulebook and experimenting with altered ingredients. “Some assignment out well, a accomplished lot don’t,” he says.
Our bout apprehension up with the accumulation in the bar, nosing a Quinoa whiskey and comparing addendum on the Triple Smoke. They accept the active activity of believers who accept stumbled aloft the Holy Grail of hipster distillers. They may able-bodied have.
The US whiskey arena acutely has article for everyone.
To advice plan your trip, appointment the Kentucky Bourbon Aisle at kybourbontrail.com
For advice about The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, appointment www.smws.com
How to get there
Affiliated Airlines flies from Glasgow via New Jersey to Cincinnati, Ohio, which is 90 account drive from Louisville. Fares alpha from about £900. www.united.com
We busy a Mustang convertible with GPS for a anniversary for £370 from Alamo, www.alamo.com
Area to break
There are endless options forth the way on this accepted day-tripper trail, alignment from account motels from as little as £30 p/night to bristles brilliant establishments at £200 and upwards.
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