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  • Writer's picturePete Stoller

Bourbon Trail Part 1

I don't have much time in Frankfort, it is mainly an ideal stopping location between Cleveland (where I'm coming from) and St. Louis (where I'm going). In what time I have here, my goal is to hit as many distilleries and learn as much about bourbon as I can!

The first distillery I hit was Buffalo Trace. This distillery has an absolutely beautiful location. Its campus is filled with flowering trees, beautiful brick buildings, and the sweet smells of bourbon.

Since this distillery is known for its array of super-elusive brands, for the next couple days I showed up at the distillery right as they opened at 10am to see what they put out in the gift shop that day. They vary it from day to day, but it's either E. H. Taylor, Weller SR, Eagle Rare, or Blanton's. So far they had E. H. Taylor two days in a row, but with luck I will be able to get a bottle of either Eagle Rare or Blanton's on Friday.

The next distillery I visited was Willett, a small family-run distillery outside of Bardstown. Unlike Buffalo Trace, I was actually able get a tour and taste some of their bourbons! Pictured above is the building that houses their still. From there it is sent via an underground tube to a different building where it is put into barrels and then rolled along tracks to a rickhouse to age.

Last up, I stopped at Heaven Hill Distillery on my way back from Willett. Heaven Hill is the distillery behind the brands Elijah Craig, Larceny, Evan Williams, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, and more. They are at a different level of operation compared to Willett in terms of size. In fact, all of the barrels from all of the rickhouses at Willett would not even fill up a single rickhouse at Heaven Hill, and they have 55 rickhouses total scattered across Kentucky.

I was hoping to find something good in their gift shop, but unfortunately they just had their basic brands that you can find just about anywhere. I did take the opportunity to buy a Heaven Hill branded whiskey glass, but no bourbon purchases here. One day I will find a good Elijah Craig barrel proof!

And that just about ends my time in Frankfort! When writing the title of this post though, I felt the need to add a "Part 1" at the end, because I am definitely coming back here to explore some more. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much in Frankfort. I kinda pictured a basic midwestern town like Peoria or Des Moines. But from the moment I got here, I realized I had definitely underestimated this place. Even the roads through the town are gorgeous, winding through canyons and across rivers. Not only are there a bunch more distilleries I want to visit, but there are also a couple of state parks that I definitely need to spend some time at!

Next up is a bit more exciting! I am meeting up with some old friends from high school this weekend just outside of St. Louis. I found this summer camp that was shut down because of covid and is currently being rented out on Airbnb. It was super cheap and I am looking forward to a weekend of catching up with friends over a bonfire and paddling out on the lake!

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