The One Distillery to Visit – when you only have time to visit one!
A description of a perfect visit to a bourbon distillery is hard to put into words. You want to learn, you want to sample good bourbon, and you want the experience to be memorable. Every visit I have had to one distillery has resulted in an enjoyable outing hosted by people that make you feel welcome. It is devoid of the corporate feeling that you can get at some of the largest distilleries. There are exceptions, and you can be made to feel welcome at Wild Turkey despite its size, but, one Kentucky distillery provides a positive and lasting impression on multiple levels. Not too large and not too small!
In fact, after visiting approximately 50 distilleries and many of these more than once, there is one location that meets the criteria of the one not to be missed. Willett Distillery in Bardstown Kentucky. It is my recommendation for that one distillery that provides anyone from a novice to a seasoned bourbon follower to have a positive, and fulfilling experience.
My reasons to visit Willett Distillery are simple.
- It is large enough to offer multiple mature bourbons providing a variety of offerings to please many different palates.
- It is designed to make you feel at home and very welcome. Willett is a family owned business and you are treated like friends while you are on the property.
- Located in Bardstown, Kentucky. Anyone who has followed the bourbonfool or listened to one of my presentations understands that Bardstown is the ground zero of Kentucky Bourbon.
- The Willett Pot Still Reserve sells in one of the most artistic and memorable bourbon bottles available. Not only is the decanter like bottle worthy of anyone’s collection but the bourbon inside is a personal favorite.
- Two other additional offerings produced by Willett are Noah’s Mill and Rowan’s Creek. These two small batch bourbons never disappoint. Noah’s is named after the local grist mill and Rowan’s Creek named after the water feature that separates the Willett Distillery from Heaven Hill Distillery located across the road.
- Willett Distillery’s location on picturesque grounds featuring a lot of history. During my most recent visit, it is plain to see that many good things are happening in the future at Willett. Stay tuned.
- Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen is someone who brings expertise, family history, and craft to the distilling process. This fifth-generation distiller is crafting some great whiskey and is a master at blending. I have met him, and he exudes confidence in his craft.
- The family continues to upgrade the distillery grounds which were originally part of the family farm. The experience is designed to be comfortable and has a very comfortable feel.
- The distillery tour at Willett is worthwhile and well thought out. You can experience the distillery, understand the history, view the fermentation process, and tour a rickhouse. Be sure to note the hams aging between the bourbon barrels in the rickhouse. Ask your tour guide why they are there?
When visiting the distillery, you will always be made to feel welcome. From the coffee bar located near the gift shop to the recently remodeled and comfortable tasting rooms, you will have a comfortable experience.
There are multiple spirits available for every person that enjoys bourbon.
The previous mention of Willett Pot Still Reserve is a bottle that resembles the Willett Pot Still at the distillery. This bottle always makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys bourbon. Be sure to purchase at least one while on the premises as they are not always easy to find in retail locations.
However, there are multiple other offerings available when visiting. They are:
- Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond 100 proof
- Old Bardstown 90 proof
- Old Bardstown Estate 101 proof
- Johnny Drum 101 proof
- Kentucky Vintage 90 proof
- Pure Kentucky 107 proof
- Noahs Mill 114 proof
- Rowan’s Creek 100 proof
- Willett Pot Still Small Batch 100 proof
- Willett Family Estate Offerings Various proofs
- Willett Rye
I find that no matter when I visit and tour a distillery I always learn something new and always appreciate the experience. However, there have been some experiences that are better than others. I have come to appreciate the consistency of every visit to the Willett Distillery. Be sure to include this outstanding location in your bourbon bucket list; you will not be disappointed!