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American Whiskey Drive Review

When I started planning my distillery drive, I didn’t find many lists that reviewed the distilleries as in-depth as I would have liked. So, I pieced together what I could find and decided that when I was done, I would write the review that I wished I had. This review will cover the ten distilleries (five on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail) that I visited over three days. Though I wasn’t able to hit them all, I hope this can be helpful for anyone else thinking about a similar trip.
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Prichard's

I hadn’t heard of Prichard’s before, but their original location in Kelso wasn’t too far from Jack Daniel’s so we decided to stop and maximize our time in Southern Tennessee. We parked in a small lot in front of the little school house and walked inside. Two other people were waiting for a tour so once we got there, the staff got the four of us started together.
The tour started with a video of Prichard’s history and then a run through of all the products (mostly rum) they offer. The variety was impressive but also a little overwhelming. It was quite the contrast after some of the distilleries we had visited that only produced one product that was differentiated by the time it spent in a barrel.
Next, we walked to the bottling room and then the small garage where distillation occurs. It was cool to see what production looked like on such a small scale after some of the giants that I had seen throughout the week. We finished up with a free tasting where we got to choose four of their…

Jack Daniel's

Jack Daniels was everything that I expected and more. Knowing that this was the holy grail for whiskey tourists I decided to dive in and book one of the more expensive tastings. I did not regret it.

As expected, we had to park a decent walk away from the distillery itself. If this wasn’t the busiest stop we had on our tour, it was in the top three. We walked over, met some Pittsburghers, and checked-in for a pre-booked tour. I happened to be early enough to catch the tour that was going out before mine so I hopped on.

The tour began with a short bus ride up a small hill to where the charcoal for the filtering process is burned. Jack Daniels uses a slightly different set-up so it was interesting to compare theirs to Dickel. We began walking down the hill as we heard about Jack Daniels history and their operations in the area. We continued the historical side of the tour with a stop at the original spring and Jack’s old office (where they were taking breaks from filming a commercial to…

George Dickel

George Dickel had a little bit of everything, making it a good standard by which to measure the other visits. Both the tour and tasting were solid, even if they weren’t my absolute favorite. The only downside was how far we had to drive to get there.
This was our first stop on Day 3 so the hollow in which the distillery sits was still a bit cool when we arrived. I walked up to the traditionally-styled visitor center and got the one and only spot on the first tour of the day. A trainee even came out with us so I had two guides all to myself. Though I had been on a number of tours in the past few days, this one managed to have enough interesting features to keep me engaged. My two guides (sorry, I forgot names) were great company too, giving the tour a relaxed feel. A highlight was learning how Dickel does the Lincoln County charcoal filtration process as this was my first time witnessing it. The distillery itself was being cleaned at the time so though we did a thorough walk-through, it…

Four Roses

Because we were a little pressed for time, and because they didn’t have a full distillery tour at the time, I just did a tasting at Four Roses. We started off in the gift shop where they have a pretty good selection of gifts and other whiskey-related items. There were even two limited edition bottlings that were only available on-site. Another customer highly recommended one of them to me as he walked out carrying the maximum allowed to be purchased from the store. I signed up for my tasting and waited a few minutes to begin.

The tasting was on the side patio a short walk from the gift shop. We learned a bit about Four Roses history and their recipe combinations before trying their Yellow Label, Small Batch, and Single Barrel. I thought they were all pretty drinkable. While we didn’t do much here, it was a good visit overall. I'd consider going back, depending on how the renovations go.

Woodford Reserve

You get the feel for what Woodford Reserve is going to be as you drive past the fence-lined rolling pastures leading to the visitor center. It’s no surprise that this is the whiskey with a Kentucky Derby bottle.
The visitor center is small and classy. There was a fire going in the fireplace even though it was eighty degrees outside. I signed in to my tour and browsed a bit while I waited. The gift shop has the usual items with some unique pricey options on top. There’s even a 375ml bottle of specially blended rye (?) on the shelf that you can only buy there. The tour starts out by walking to a bus that takes you down the short hill to the actual distillery. No other buildings looked like these. The stonework was unique from the distilleries that I saw and visually impressive. I snapped a few quick shots while we were herded into the fermentation room. There was a short presentation on the different aspects that go into the whiskey-making process along with some words on what makes Wood…

Buffalo Trace

There were many similarities between this tour and Barton’s. Both are owned by Sazerac who keeps the tour and tasting free (and therefore can’t be included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, as they require members to charge, unfortunately). Both offer multiple types of tours. Both were our first tour of the day and featured the best tour guides I had throughout the trip.
We arrived and made the short walk from the parking lot to the visitor center. The lot is pretty big and was getting very full by the time we left so I imagine it isn’t always as convenient as we found it. This was our first tour of the day and, as I’m a bit eager, we got there before the gift center opened. Thankfully this wasn’t a problem as I really enjoyed walking around and looking at the old buildings. This distillery had some of the beauty of Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark with the slightly more industrial feel of Jack Daniel’s. After the walk, we went inside to start our tour.
As with Amanda at Barton’s, I have…