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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Woodford Reserve, Kentucky, USA

A distillery was opened on this site by Elijah Pepper in 1812 and according to legend (or the marketing department) is the site where Dr Crow "perfected" bourbon.  Now owned by Brown Forman (of Jack Daniel's fame) you could literally pick up this distillery and drop into Speyside and it would not look out of place, with it's picturesque setting, stone stillhouse and copper pots stills from Forsythe's of Rothes.  This was exactly what I had imagined a bourbon distillery to be.  They had picked up a  few other ideas from Scotland as well, such as charging $7 for a tour, the first and only time I was charged on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and having a convenient lunch / coffee shop in the visitors center.  The tour was well organized with a short video and then a bus ride from the plush visitor center down to the actual distillery and a guide equiped with a mini PA system so all could hear him.  The tour focussed on the components that make up the distinctive sweet taste of Woodford Reserve, the grains, the yeast (one of many distileries that mentioned criticality of yeast) the stills and distillation process (Woodford Reserve uniquely triple distills their bourbon), the casks and of course the maturation.  Seeing the still house wtih three pot stills was definately unique on the KBT.  Another highlight was seeing the fermentation process because the day we toured they were actually making an unusual mash which will be part of a future Masters Collection and included chocolate roasted rye so it was much darker than usual yellow corn mashes I saw on the tours.  Then the mandatory bottling hall part of tour to watch Collingwood Canadian Whiskey being bottled... (something to do with similar bottle shape and Borwn Forman plant capacity).  After the highlight of watching and hearing some Canadian whiskey being bottled the tour concluded back in vistor center with a shot glass of Woodford Reserve (you get to keep the plastic shot glass!) and a chocolate!  All in all a very good tour and along with Maker's Mark was one of the highlights.

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Henry Schmidt's Illegal Still Site, Texas, USA

Henry Schmidt's Illegal Still Site, Texas, USA

OK, I admit this is stretch but I did visit it as it is just a few miles from Houston in what is now a wildlife park in Dickinson, Texas.    Of course before posting this entry I did some very thorough research.  By "thorough" I mean I typed three of four versions of "Schmidt+stills+Dickinson"  into Google but I got less hits than Donald Sterling's www.onlineguidetoracerelations.com webpage.  All I could find was information on the sign which says the site "was used by Henry Schmidt in the 1920s and destroyed by Hurricane Carla".  At end of day I can still say it may not be the worst distillery  visit I ever made (Tobermory; I have not forgotten you and NEVER will).  Also my daughter really enjoyed this trip a lot more than others as it had turtles and camels as well.  You never see those at Glenfiddich.  Not unless you hit the samples a little too hard.

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