When in Kentucky, one must at least try bourbon, but why not also go to a “Brewstillery.” Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co has become one of the few “brewstilleries” in the United States, that is a brewery and distillery at one location. Also called Town Branch Bourbon is just one of the bourbon distilleries located on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. To tour the Brewstillery and have four tastes (a combination of beer and bourbon), it is just $7! Tour run Monday – Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday noon-5pm. The tours run every hour (or half hour) and last about one hour each.
The tour starts out with an introduction by your guide and a small video. Our guide was Cindy; she was very enthusiastic and very knowledgable about the brewstillery. Above are just a few of the quotes in the gift shop; I couldn’t help but adore these quotes.
After the quick introduction, you are off to the brewing portion of the site. There is an explanation of the brewing process, and then tasting of some beers. While in Kentucky I had already tried their flagship beers: Kentucky Ale and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. The Kentucky Bourbon Ale is let to sit in an old bourbon barrel after it has been brewed, giving it much more flavor. I did quite enjoy this beer with its combination of beer and bourbon. While on the tour, I tried the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout, which was my favorite of the beers. It had a lovely essence of roasted coffee (along with an 8% ABV). I also tried the Barley Wine and IPA. I was less impressed with these, which wasn’t too much of a surprise because I am not a big fan of hoppy beers.
And of course, there is much to learn about bourbon in the state of Kentucky; an amazing 98% of the World’s bourbon is made in Kentucky. On the tour, we got a run down on the history of bourbon in the United States complete with the whiskey rebellion. All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey can be bourbon. There are 4 components that makes a whiskey actually a bourbon:
1. It must be produced in the US (even though the vast majority is produced in Kentucky)
2. The mash used to make the bourbon must be made up of at least 51% corn
3. It must be distilled at least at 160 proof, but bottled at no less than 80 proof.
4. It must be aged in new charred oak barrels (yes! the barrels are burnt on the inside!).
There are vats that allow the yeast to do its thing (pictured above). The liquid is actually swirling around on its own from the yeast. We were able to try the mixture at this point in the process. The guide said it wasn’t going to be very good, but I thought it tasted just like hard cider, which I love.
The mixture is then brought to the distillers – a bell-shaped distiller (pictured above). This allows the liquid to evaporate up to the top and then condense again. The more times the alcohol is able to evaporate and condense, the higher quality it is.
By the end of the tour, as our guide said, the tour group became drinking buddies. There were four bourbons for us to try, only one of which I was tried (I used my tickets on the beer because I had already tried some bourbon the night before and I’m not sure that it is my favorite spirit). I chose to try the Bluegrass Sundown, and I can’t describe how amazing it truly is. It is suggested to be served as 1/3 bourbon, 2/3 hot water, and topped with heavy whipping cream (pictured below). I was beyond in heaven; it tastes like a beautiful coffee mocha floating on top of the clouds.
So, when in Kentucky — make sure to try some bourbon! Have you had any crazy bourbon experiences?