In November, Rosemary and I went to spend time in Lexington, Kentucky and visit some distilleries. On our second day, we went to visit Bluegrass Distillers. The distillery was located at 501 W 6th St., but they are moving in 2022. They were recruited by the town of Midway, Kentucky to move to the historic Elkwood Farm. They are going to expand their distillery and purchase a small column still to pair with one of the pot stills they are using now. They hope to be moved by June of 2022. They are still offering tastings and tours at their Lexington site until they make the move.
The Lexington site is in an industrial building on W 6th St. Entering the distillery you find a small gift shop with bottles for sale as well as the normal glassware and other branded merchandise. You sign up for the tour here and they lead you back into the distillery. The first stop is a brief description of where they are moving to and a little history of how they entered the distilling business. You are taken on a tour through the building and will see the two pot stills they are using at this time, their fermenting process and bottling line.
Bluegrass Distillers are making several mash bills. They do a traditional Bourbon with 75% yellow corn, 21 % rye and 4% malted barley. They make two other recipes using the same percentages except in one, they use blue corn and in the other they use wheat instead of rye. They have a fairly low barrel entry proof with their cask strength product only being in the 113 proof range. They also have a toasted barrel expression that is really good. It is a four year old Bourbon finished for twenty-one days in a toasted barrel.
Bluegrass Distillers are very open about every aspect of their distilling process. I respect that. They have nothing to hide. They are distilling their own product and are proud of what they are making. I do expect that with the move, there will be a little flavor drift. Going from a fully pot still distilled product to using a small column still is bound to cause the flavor to drift. I think their distiller is talented enough though that I don’t expect a huge change. It will take him some time to figure out the new still and fine tune the process, but I think they will work it out. They may even find they like the new flavor as well as the old.
I have posted tasting notes on their Bourbons before, but the Finished Whiskey is new to me, so I picked up a bottle at the distillery. Matt and I sat down and tasted it and here are our notes.
Bluegrass Distiller Toasted Oak Finished Whiskey
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Very simple nose – caramel and bananas with some oak wood.
- Matt: Vanilla Latte with some cardamom and plums and oak wood.
- Mike: Caramel, banana, cinnamon, nutmeg and oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and butterscotch comes out in spades with the banana and baking spices. Tasted with a pecan and the flavor shifts to coffee with a little maple syrup.
- Matt: Vanilla and bitter grapefruit citrus and a little floral note of lilac and wood. The dried cranberry brought out some raspberry and lemon zest. The pecan brought out rich caramel like a caramel chew candy, with some notes of oats and orange. Reminiscent of a granola bar.
- Mike: Long and spicy with only a hint of oak tannins, but a lot of sweet oak wood. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter and sweeter with lots of caramel. The pecan made the finish longer with oak and notes of coffee and spice.
- Matt: Medium long with oak and allspice. The dried cranberry made it shorter with notes of tobacco. The pecan brought out notes of tobacco and cocoa.
Bluegrass Distillers are making good whiskey and have a nice little tour and gift shop. I would highly recommend a visit if you are in Lexington, Kentucky this year. Even after they move, the town of Midway is a short drive from Lexington and you will have the added bonus of being close to Ouita Michel’s restaurant Holly Hill Inn. Be sure to have lunch or dinner there after visiting the distillery.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller