Kentucky: Day Three
… in which our heroes meet a legend.
Predicted rain and a tornado warning narrowed our options for day three to indoor activities. Like I said yesterday though, luckily the Bourbon making process takes place largely inside, and the original title of this particular vacation was “The Kentucky Bourbon Trail”, so off to Lawrenceburg we went.
There are about a gazillion distilleries within an hour drive from Lexington, and we chose Wild Turkey for absolutely no particular reason whatsoever. I’m glad we did. We arrived early for our 2 pm tour and had a wander around the gift shop/information center/tasting room.
About two minutes into our wander, an older couple came in the door, and if you’re a Bourbon aficionado at all, the gentleman was immediately recognizable.
Jimmy Russell “The Buddha of Bourbon” himself, is entering his 65th year as master distiller at Wild Turkey. He and his wife (who has worked at Wild Turkey longer than he has) came in and sat and chatted with us for a while before we left on our tour. (And by “us” I mean literally “us”. He took the time to engage anyone and everyone who approached in a 1:1 conversation.) The scientist in me was absolutely fascinated by not only the depth of knowledge, but the ease with which he could explain any aspect of the process we had questions about. Why does the Bourbon stored on the top floor of the rickhouse taste different from the Bourbon stored on the bottom floor? What’s the black stuff you see crawling all over the outside of the rickhouses (storage warehouses)? What’s the difference between a copper still and a stainless steel one? Just an amazing wealth of knowledge and secrets and “things science can’t explain, but I’m telling you it makes a difference”.
And you know that shine in someone’s eyes when they’re talking about that thing they love more than anything else? He has that x 10,000 when he’s telling you all of this.
And guess what… HE DRIVES A SUPER-CHIC RED MINIVAN!!!! (I’m not kidding.)
The rest of the tour at Wild Turkey was very cool, super informational, and ended with a tasting of five WT products. TIL: I like rye more than I thought I did and when someone walks you through what you’re tasting you can definitely taste the subtle nuances that come from the mashbill, the oak, and the blending process.
Left or right?
When we wander, we often drive aimlessly and ask “left or right?” when we get to an intersection. So pulling away from Wild Turkey we played a round “Back Roads Kentucky Left or Right?”
Of course there were horses.
And, of course a Scottish Castle in the middle of Kentucky that used to be a distillery and is recently reopened as a new distillery named “Castle and Key”. It reopened in September, so their Bourbon won’t be available until 2021, but they make vodka and gin, and there’s some really cool old stuff around the grounds.
That was pretty much it for Day Three… we made a stop at the most famous mural in downtown Lexington on the way home and called it a day.
More Bourbon and who-knows-what tomorrow!