Bourbon Country Part Three.  It's here, people.  We are both from Kentucky, we live in Kentucky and we love bourbon.  Well, Dave loves bourbon and Jess is trying hard to love it more.  The bourbon industry is booming which is great for our Commonwealth, but not so great for the people that have always loved it and now can't go pick up their favorite bottles off the shelf anymore.

Finding bourbon now can seem like a scavenger hunt with the hardest clues and no guarantee that you'll even get your hands on it because once you figure out the location, now things are pretty much left up to the luck of the draw.  Seriously.  Now days to get your hands on top bourbon bottles your name must be called, you must be present to win and then you must be willing to dish the cash.  It's all fun and games until you've gone a couple of years with no luck.  We are due for a win!

There are now 11 signature distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  ELEVEN!  The list has grown (and grown quickly) since the trail began.  Additionally, there are 14 micro distilleries on the Craft Tour of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  There are no signs of slowing down, either!

Before we made our first distillery stop, we needed to fuel up on lunch so we checked out Doc Crow's.  Dave had eaten here before while exploring when Jess had a work conference in Louisville so we knew the food was good, plus it is literally right beside Old Forester.  The restaurant is huge, too!

We started with their pimento beer cheese and chips which were really good, but it was a large serving!  If we weren't sticking around all day, we would have asked for it to be boxed up to take home with us... #andihateleftovers 

Dave had the beef brisket tacos and Jess stuck with their classic hamburger, but asked to have a side of the house made chipotle mayo.  Everything was really good and the servings were large.

We randomly decided it was time to visit a couple more stops on the trail and since Louisville is an easy drive for us, it was the perfect Sunday Funday!  Old Forester had just started tours that Friday at the new location, so we didn't waste any time getting there.  In fact, we were so on top of it that apparently Old Forester didn't even have their stamp for the Bourbon Trail Passport yet.  #sigh  

119 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 779-2222

Old Forester dates back to the 1870's when it was introduced on Louisville's Whiskey Row by George Garvin Brown.  Every bourbon has their claim for something, and Old Forester's is that it was the FIRST American bourbon to be bottled meaning it was the first to be sold in sealed glass bottles.

During that time, Old Forester was named after Dr. William Forrester, who was a customer of George Garvin Brown's when he was working as a pharmaceutical salesman.  When Dr. Forrester retired, Brown dropped the second “R” in the name.  After all, who would want to end up paying royalties on that?

In the 1920's, prohibition began which is a whole story in itself.  A lot of distilleries closed during that time, but the company (now named Brown-Forman) applied for and received a federal license that allowed them to continue producing Old Forester for medical purposes.  Hey, we could probably all use a prescription for a little bourbon at some point in our lives.  Right?

Once prohibition was repealed, the production of Old Forester was increased.  Another fun little fact about this brand is that it was the only bourbon that was distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during and after prohibition.  Every bourbon brand has their story and it's fun to learn about them.

There are a handful of products under the Old Forester label which include: Classic 86 Proof, Signature 100 Proof, 1870 Original Batch, 1897 Bottled in Bond, 1920 Prohibition Style, Single Barrel, Statesman and The President's Choice which is hand selected by Campbell Brown, Old Forester president and fifth generation Brown family member, under the guidance of the Master Taster.  Although, he probably knows his bourbon.

They also have a limited-edition of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon which is released to each year on September 2nd to celebrate George Garvin Brown.  What is the significance of September 2nd?  Yes, it's his birthday.  If you know much (or don't know much) about bourbon, you should know that if you ever have the opportunity to get your hands on this bourbon - you buy it.  No other questions needed.  BUY IT!

Tour Information:
$16 for Adults (21 and Over)
$12 for Minors (10-20) and Veterans/Active Duty
$14 for Seniors (65+) and Free for Littles Under 10
Duration is 1 Hour (Includes Time for Tasting)
Guests are Encouraged to Arrive 15 Minutes Before Tour
All Times Are Eastern Time
Distillery Operations Run Tuesday Saturday
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 AM – 6 PM (Last Tour Begins at 5)
Sunday: 12 5 PM (First Tour Begins at 12:15)
Monday: 10 AM 5 PM (Last Tour Begins at 4)
Tours Begin Every 15 Minutes (Note Special Times Above)

Reservations for Tours are Strongly Recommended
Maximum Group Size for Tours is 20 People 
Tour Includes Tasting for Age Appropriate Guests 

To be 100% honest, before this tour we didn't have a single bottle of Old Forester in our cabinet.  We were aware of it, but it just wasn't a bourbon that Dave had tried somewhere and immediately had to have.  We're not saying it's not good... we're simply just saying that we didn't have it. 

Guests (of legal drinking age) have the opportunity to taste three of the Old Forester labels during the tour: Classic 86 Proof, Statesman and Signature 100 Proof.  If you've had them, what's your favorite?

The tour conveniently ends in the shop where you can purchase any (or all) of the bourbons that you liked.  We're happy to report we now have a bottle of the Statesman.  It was our favorite of the three.

They had most of the collection available at the shop minus one.  We already told you that you can't get your hands on a bottle of the Birthday Bourbon, and if you can - would you please go ahead and get us one, too?  If they would have had that, we would have ended up going home with a lot more bourbon.  You can also have bottles purchased from the shop engraved onsite, for an additional fee (of course).

We really enjoyed this tour.  Since everything is new and the facility was practically designed with visitors in mind, everything is comfortable.  Walking through the tour is an ease, everything is air conditioned/heated appropriately for the time of year.  

This tour was easy and enjoyable!  Sure it's a little more modern and doesn't exactly have the charm or character you'll find in a rickhouse.  However, it's an easy bourbon tour especially if you have anyone needing special assistance in your party or if you have a stroller.

You'll want to take note of the days and tour hours when visiting Old Forester.  Production there is fully operational from Tuesday to Saturday.  Tours on Sunday and Monday have access to view everything, but active production isn't underway.  This was perfect for us because we didn't necessarily want to be around the welding/burning of the barrels for a number of reasons. 

However, this is something unique about Old Forester that we haven't seen on other tours.  Our guide did a great job of explaining things and educating us on the process without seeing it in action.  This worked out great for us, but if you'd be disappointed to miss this in action then we'd suggest visiting Tuesday through Saturday.  We also learned unique things about their barrels like all of the little B's (look closely).

Our next stop in Louisville was Angel's Envy.  These distilleries are actually pretty close to one another so we parked in between both and walked from one to the other.  We found a spot directly across from Louisville Slugger Field which was a great location.  Plus, parking is free on Sunday!  Win/Win!

 Angel's Envy is a little very different from Old Forester.  For starters, the distillery is actually a full working distillery which means that it isn't so air conditioned and comfortable.  All of the distilleries are different from one another in their own unique ways which is why we still enjoy visiting them all. 

500 East Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
(502) 890-6300

This operation is a much smaller scale (although they are preparing to double their production as I type this).  Angel's Envy is a small batch bourbon and has already grown more than the company could have imagined or dreamed.  The brand started with a simple idea between a father and son.  

On this tour it was special to learn more about the family, their story and to realize that Angel's Envy is pretty much a full on family endeavor (even for those not of age... they just can't legally work there yet).  

Lincoln Henderson came out of retirement to work with his son (Wes) on an idea he had - for bourbon to be finished in port barrels.  Wes's son Kyle eventually joined in on the adventure to learn from his Grandfather, and the family legacy was born.  Kyle was one of six boys in the family mix.

Angel's Envy is the masterpiece of the brand and was inspired by Lincoln Henderson himself.  If you're new to the bourbon world (WELCOME!), about 5% of the spirit is lost each year as it ages in a barrel.  Throughout the industry, this is called the "Angel's Share."  After tasting their creation, Lincoln joked that they had finally gotten a better deal than the angels... and the brand was born.  Angel's Envy.

Tour Information:
$20 Per Person Across the Board
Duration is 1 Hour (Includes Time for Tasting)
Tours are by Reservation Only
There is a Maximum of 10 Spots on Tours 

Monday: 10 AM 5 PM
Tuesday: No Public Tours Offered
Wednesday – Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Sunday: 1 PM – 5 PM

Tours are Held on the Hour with the Last Tour at 4 PM
Tours Offered on the Half Hour Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Although it is growing, and rather quickly at that, the brand keeps things simple.  They have their namesake, Angel's Envy (Port Finish) and two others - Run Finish (Rye) and Cask Strength.

To give you an idea of the family business here is the run down: Wes Henderson is Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Kyle Henderson is Production Manager and Andrew Henderson is the Distillery Operator.  It's a family business.  But, each of these men came to the company from a humble place and work hard each day to not only leave their mark on the brand, but on the bourbon industry as a whole.  

Angel's Envy has a cool way for other people who are passionate about bourbon to get involved with the brand - the Whiskey Guardian program.  This program is made up of individuals who live all over the United States (that are actively involved with the bar and restaurant communities) and they educate people about the Angel's Envy brand.  How cool, right?

They just get how you do it at Angel's Envy.  Everything has a grass-roots/local/community feel and after learning that, it made us love the brand more.  One way they do this is by asking anyone on the tour to leave genuine feedback from their experience.  We were told that every single word was read and in most cases any suggestions were taken to heart.  It was clear that this was completely true. 

Like other distillery tours, Angel's Envy hosts a tasting to conclude.  However, this experience was also a little different from others we've visited.  You start at the distillery bar (which is made out of an old tree split down the middle) and then you are invited to stay at the cocktail lounge which is exclusive to individuals who have gone on the tour.  We didn't stay for a drink, but this was extremely unique.

At the tasting you only get to try Angel's Envy, but you do get seconds!  You also get a tasty orange chocolate (which we know sounds weird, but it was so delicious).  The chocolates are made specifically for Angel's Envy and you can purchase them at the gift shop.

We wanted to take #allthechocolate home with us, so instead we took home none.  Angel's Envy and Angel's Envy Rye was available for purchase in addition to all types of other goodies.

There are a couple of special experiences offered at Angel's Envy distillery.  They have a Bottle Your Own where you literally get to fill your own bottle.  You must make reservations for this, and it is only offered hourly on Fridays between 10:10 AM and 4:10 PM.  The reservation cost is $99.99 and an hour long experience led by one of the brand's Ambassadors is included.

The other is the Cocktail Craft Class which is offered on Thursdays a 5:30 PM.  With this, you learn how to make Angel Envy's signature cocktail, The Henderson which is their take on an old fashioned.  Tickets are $55 per person, but the class includes a full distillery tour (with a 3-part tasting) and you get to take home a gift to help in your future cocktail endeavors. #bartendernotincluded

We really enjoyed this tour and learning about the family history of the brand.  Although, this tour was HOT.  Like we mentioned, it is a full operating distillery and you are in the elements.  It is suggested that everyone visiting wear close-toed shoes.  They offer complimentary water and actually encouraged everyone to grab a bottle box before the tour started.  Do yourself a favor and grab one!

We always chat after wrapping up tours about which we liked better and what we thought.  The thing is that every distillery is so different!  You really can't compare them, because the experience (and the distilleries) are each very different.  You'll just have to visit for yourself and see what you think!

There are a few more distilleries in Louisville that we still need to hit including Bulleit, Evan Williams (we've been for an event, but not for the actual tour), and the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse.  We like to tour no more than two to three in a single day.  After that, they all start running together and we tend to zone out until it's time for the tasting.  #whoops  Oh well, at least we're honest about it.  

On a serious note, if you live in Kentucky (or close) and you have the opportunity to take your time exploring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, we recommend doing just that.  If you're on a mission or visiting town, we get that you want to try and fit in as much as you can.  If you missed our Bourbon Country posts that feature visits to other distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Craft Trail you can find them here:

BOURBON COUNTRY PART ONE - Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Town Branch and Woodford Reserve
BOURBON COUNTRY PART TWO - Willett, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Barton

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