It may come as a shock to you to find that members of Blackfive (and the armed services) drink, and have an appreciation of the distiller's art. (cough, cough). I recently found myself at Heaven (Hill that is) and wanted to share a bit about the Bourbon Heritage Center and Heaven Hill Distilleries. I plan on returning to Bardstown, Kentucky, and to the Center and recommend that you visit as well. In fact, if you are active duty, bring your ID and you will get a discount. What that is I'm not saying, but you will want to take advantage of it.
While Evan Williams is perhaps this family-owned and operated company's best known brand, my bourbon of choice to have on hand for regular use is Elijah Craig 12-year-old. This product drew me to visit when I had the chance, as I wanted to know more about the product and my favorite preacher.
Elijah was indeed a preacher, a distiller, and more. In fact, he is credited by many sources with the discovery of something that made the modern bourbon industry: barrel charring. The story of how that came to be is a good one, makes me like him more, and is something I recommend you learn first hand.
Now, unlike many distilleries, the actual distillery is no longer on Heaven Hill. Sadly, a fire in the 90's took it out, and those operations were moved up the road to Lousiville. That said, you still have two walk-in options for tours; and, you can sign up for a very special behind-the-scenes tour via their web site. I plan on taking that special tour the next time I go visit -- and yes, I plan on going back.
I'm not going to show him since he really didn't know what I was up to, but my tour guide was amazing. He has been in the business for years, and that depth of knowledge showed. That he was also an Elijah Craig drinker only made it better, as he shared knowledge of the product and it's history with me. Another thing that impressed me with him was that he asked about me and my knowledge of the art at the start, and then tailored my tour through the center accordingly. Even better, he tailored my tasting as well, and we had a great time discussing the attributes of the different Elijah Craig offerings.
If you are a bourbon drinker, and like good bourbon, check your local provider for Elijah Craig 18-year-old. If they have it, buy it. A recent visitor to the center liked it so much, he bought the entire stock they had. It will be a while before there is more, so grab it while you can.
Two quick notes and one confession to share:
First, I was very impressed with the staff at the Center. In addition to my tour guide, two other staff members went out of their way to make sure I had the information I needed and enjoyed myself. They went above and beyond, and it was appreciated.
Two, while I won't swear to the special tour, the Center itself is very family friendly. While you have to be of legal age to do tastings and make liquid purchases at the gift shop, children can enjoy the displays, movie, and other information at the Center.
The confession is that my photo of the copper-roofed Center was not acceptable to share. Instead, I suggest you view it on their site.
I very much enjoyed my visit, and do plan on going back Bardstown is a very nice and interesting place, with a variety of lodging (B&B to chain hotels), restaurants (including a dinner train), and more. If you are passing by, or looking for a good trip to make, go visit the Bourbon Heritage Center. If you are active duty, be sure to take your ID.