A cool, misty day with friends and loved ones in the heart of horse country. Touring the Bluegrass State’s finest bourbon distilleries along a country road that winds along the Kentucky River. It’s 2:45pm and the fog hasn’t lifted deep in the bottom of the valley. We slow down to admire an abandoned distillery, and stop to snap pics of those ‘white trees’ for the artist in the car. (Sycamores to any Kentuckian that knows their basic foliage and understands what a mess they make in the fall.)
We can’t dally though. The tour starts at 3pm. We’re rushing to our second bourbon distillery tour of the day. We had just left the fun & informative Buffa
lo Trace tour. So why rush to another tour. They’re all the same, right?
The road turns away from the river and the fog turns to drizzle. 3:00pm exactly and we arrive. 3:05pm and we’re being thanked for making a tour. Only 2 other people had shown up. The drizzle turns to a down pour.
The informative tour is a bit stuffy. Less fun, but the class of the place is unmistakeable. Woodford Reserve isn’t there to party. It’s made to enjoy and respect. This is what a life well-lived tastes like, and this is how they make that taste.
The tour continues into the warm warehouse. No modern environmental controls. The thick stone walls make this place naturally warm in the winter. Naturally cool in the summer. The bourbon makes the angels’ share. A smell that can only be described as heavenly. Even a non-drinker (my loved one touring with me) can wallow in this aroma. Barrels tower overhead. Dates cover a decade or more of hard work and care. You’re on hallowed ground here.
On to the more modern bottling areas. Yellow safety lines and warnings protect expensive equipment. The tour guide drones on with the machinations of how it’s all done, like an amateur magician giving away the master’s secrets.
But what is this?
A Woodford Reserve label, but with a copper sheen. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. “Due out in February. We’re releasing twice as much this year,” the proud guide says, as if letting you in on a secret. Crates of boxes waiting to be filled with amber treasure.
The tour ends with a basic sampling and a souvenir. A drive through more horse country. On to lunch at a Kentucky treasure, Wallace Station. A UK game is on the radio as we drive past the castle, Keeneland, and Calumet Farm. Can this day be any more Kentucky?
Later we all meet again to party.
It’s now February. Still cold and drizzle, but there it is in the store, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Now it’s in my home. Taking me back to that day. A glass sets atop a hand-painted coaster given to me by the artist mentioned earlier.
This is bourbon perfection.
It’s a glass of friendship and happiness. New acquaintances becoming friends. New experiences during a classic experince: the drink with friends. Double Oaked is a bourbon tour on your couch. No cold & mist can dampen this occasion. The cold makes you want to be warm and comfy. The mist just keeps the scent low and strong. Weather a bloodhound would love. Every drink is an occasion to itself.
The oakey scent is that of a bourbon barrel. Several times between drinks I’ve paused just to inhale the aroma again and again. Charred oak barrel wafts out of the glass, carrying along vanilla, summer bluegrass, and the purity of limestone filtered water. This is a glass of Kentucky. It’s a glass of that day all over again. Perfection.
Everything you read above is true. But I still prefer Blanton’s over the Double Oaked. That’s just me. I see Double-Oaked as a top-shelf equal. The flavor is what bourbon strives to be.