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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Anchorage Distillery, Alaska, USA

There have been much published on the emergence of micro distilleries in the USA, the UK and indeed all over the world. Much of that has been positive but there is it appears one major drawback to a micro distillery that to my knowledge has gone unsaid. The truth is they don’t always make very long or interesting tours. A recent visit to this site in an industrial park on outskirts of Anchorage was a perfect example of that. After arriving at the very cosy bar I was taken to see the distillery. Ten minutes later I was back in the bar. A micro tour of a micro distillery? That said the cocktails, vodka, gin and white whisky samples flowed freely (though not in commercial sense, I had to pay) and I enjoyed my visit very much.  I was fortunate to be their only customer that chilly afternoon in February so I had full attention of their excellent host.  The finale was a ghost pepper vodka that is the oral equivalent of taking your palate to the woodshed and beating the crap out of it with a stick!  I left warm and content (with a slighty numb tongue) and a bag full of goodies from a rather well stocked shop, at least that is my recollection after 6 or 7 drink samples. I also took a 5cl sample of their Arctic Ice Moonshine Whiskey (http://www.somanywhiskies.com/reviews/item/814-arctic-ice-moonshine-whiskey) as the only aged whisky this site has produced to date is some rye that is still in cask but that means I have a reason to go back as well.



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Jim Beam, Kentucky, USA

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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