Wild Turkey Distillery (#6 of 19) is the home of legendary distiller Jimmy Russell and I've heard he can be seen on certain tours. This mass production facility houses one of the most famous bourbon's in the world.
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About the Wild Turkey Distillery Tour
- Location: Lawrenceburg, KY
- Impression: Extensive campus with informative visitor's center.
- Website: Tour Information (Requires Age Verification)
- Cost: I paid $11 for the tour. Check hours, they close for lunch and are closed on Sunday and Monday.
- Samples: They don't skimp. You get to try the Russell Reserve Rye and Russell Reserve Bourbon, as well as the Rare Breed. They threw in the American Honey Stinger which isn't classified as a bourbon for reasons I'll go into later.
- Perks: A bus ride, I guess. Wild Turkey is the only distillery I went to where I came home with nothing, including no whisky.
- My Wild Turkey Instagram Photos
Behind the Scenes: Good Management?
What was I babbling about... "good management?" I told you, unscripted. I had a car come up while I was doing this report and my inner introvert took over and my brain went elsewhere. I was rambling on about my team anyway...so it was probably a good thing! By the way, my Tigers got smoked by the Reds 9-0 and proceeded to go on a long losing streak, dispelling my odd "good management" rap!
- Stay a little later and read up on some of the history of Wild Turkey and the distillery. They have a picturesque visitor's center with a lot of great information. I actually got more out of reading then I did from the tour itself, which was very heavy on process.
- The view down to the river with the two bridges is beautiful. You'll get a closer view on the tour. You can also walk down below the distillery and get a great shot and enjoy a cocktail, but you'll also see it from the tasting room.
- Take heart inexperienced bourbon drinkers, after a few tours, I realized that I could taste the whisky and pull out some flavors. And now, post trip, I'm finding that I really enjoy the tasting experience and have fun doing some comparisons and examining of flavors at home.
- Had a nice discussion with a fellow bourbon explorer, Franck Mounier of the Whisky Gourmet. If you live in the 862 area code, you might check out some of his events. Or at least follow him on Instagram for some food pairing and tasting events.
- Off topic: Ardbeg wins awards constantly as a Scotch. I am keeping my bottle (using a bottle preserver to suck out the oxygen, as oxygen robs life from a whisky over a period of a couple of years) until I come back from a trip to Scotland. I've had things I didn't like at first, suddenly become something I enjoyed. But right now, Ardbeg is just too aggressive for my palate...and Ardbeg lovers will just have to be okay with that.
Update: October 2018: Upon returning to my home, a friend and I did a tasting. He loved the Ardbeg. When he described it as a savory scotch, I realized I had been tasting it with the wrong impression in mind. I was expecting sweet and that isn't what I got. It's like tasting a wine that smells fruity and turns out to be dry. I soon tried Laphroaig 10 which some consider an even stronger Islay scotch, and I fell in love with it. It's now my favorite scotch. Tastes change and palates become more sophisticated. That's why I went on this journey.
A Word About: Mash Bills
This is a term you will hear often. It is an important term to know. Basically, a mash bill is another word for a recipe. It is the specific mixture of corn, rye or wheat and barley that is used to make the Sour Mash. And the first place I discovered the impact of the mash bill was with Maker's Mark. Amazingly, they only have one. That's right, all the different styles you try; all the different labels, they are all from one formula; one single combination of grains. The same for Wild Turkey, as I mentioned in the video, and also Four Roses. That was a real eye-opener. And it becomes even more of an eye-opener when you realize that a hard to find whisky you're looking for may come with a different label and some slightly different finishing techniques. Knowing this, you might find a lesser known label that might be just as good as that rare whisky you've not been wanting to spend a small fortune on. These guys have developed a pretty nice list of mash bills...see what your favorites contain.
Full Disclosure: End of my second day
I had a rough time making a video after the Wild Turkey tour It was very hot and I felt like I was wearing down. However, on Day 3, I was up, energized and loved the tours I went on. I think I lost a little momentum because Four Roses and Wild Turkey were high on my list and I felt a little let down. That, of course, is personal opinion.