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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Jim Beam, Kentucky, USA

My first major US distillery and the first stop I made on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in May 2012.  To call this a distillery visit is a bit misleading... as the official name is the Jim Beam Heritage Tour and you don't get to see any of the actual working distillery (except for one warehouse).  Instead the focus is on the Beam family distilling history (which begins with Jacob Beam.... not Jim) and and also learn about their product range.  This is not the artisanal style of distillery I have been used to seeing in Scotland, this is a major whisky factory wth over 475 employees (thats about 450 more men than you find in Tain and 472 more than Benromach).  I learned that 95% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky and 50% of that is made by Jim Beam.   Their range is a bit of a mixed bag for me... I like Jim Beam Black (but not the standard White label), I like Booker's but not Baker's and I love Knob Creek but don't like Basil Hayden.  All of these Beam brands are made at this facility and interestingly all made with the usual suspects of corn, rye and malted barley... not a wheated bourbon in the range.  Highlight of tour was probably learning our guide was 8th generation Beam family and seeing the pride and passion in her for bourbon (and she was cute which also helped).  The tour was free and included a short video and samples of Jim Beam Black and Baker's small batch bourbon (and a sample of choclate to try with the Baker's... a recurring theme on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail).  The facility is currently undergoing an upgrade with a new store and a cafe and will in the future the tour will include the actual distillery.... so I will have to come back and revisit when that is complete and hopefully get the same guide.

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The London Distillery Company, London, England (Ver 1)

The London Distillery Company, London, England (Ver 1)

I have previously visited a closed distillery (Stitzel Weller in Kentucky, see link below) so why not vsiit one that is not even built yet?  That is what is I did in September 2012 when I visited the fledgling London Distillery Company and was given a personal tour of the former dairy cold room, located in Battersea, that will be home to the first artisinal whisky distillery in the UK.   As I have mentioned recently in my blog entry Living The Dream, the founder, Darren Rook, raised the capital for this project via an internet 'crowd funding' website in 2012.  It turns out this is not only the first London distillery in over 100 years and the UK's first craft distillery but also one of the first 200 or so companies funded in this way.  I am running out of words like "cool" and "exciting" to use about this project and I am really happy to be personally associated in a small way with it, through my own, very minor, investment.  The building work has commenced and when I return after Christmas they expect to be in production of both whisky and gin (this is London afterall) and offering "proper" tours, which I can't wait for.  I have a tour booked for December 28th.... and will update this entry after that.  As they were not operational there were no samples to try at the end of the tour, however Darren did take me to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London along with the distiller Andrew and intern Marco for a dram or two to make up for that.  Just over 3 years from now, November 2015, we will be tasting their whisky for the first time. 

 

http://www.somanywhiskies.com/distilleries/item/332-stitzel-weller-kentucky-usa

 

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