This visit to the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively Kentucky was long overdue. Not only is the distillery historically significant but the selection of bourbons produced is worth a discussion.
Stitzel-Weller Distillery was founded in 1935 and became known as the Old Fitzgerald Distillery because of the flagship brand of bourbon that was produced. Like so many distilleries in Kentucky, the location was ideal because of the quality of water available and the location outside of Louisville which reduced the tax burden.
Three men built the distillery including Alex Farmsley, Arthur Stitzel, and a soon to be legend Julian Van Winkle. Yes, the man behind Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Stitzel Weller became famous for producing bourbons using wheat as the flavoring grain and aging their whiskey ten years or more.
The facility is now known for the popular Bulleit Bourbon which is a high rye mash bill bourbon unique for having a crooked label on the bottle. Bulleit, Bulleit 10-year-old, and Bulleit Barrel Strength are variations of good bourbon referred to as frontier whiskey. I especially liked the 10-year-old. The interesting fact is that we came away with an appreciation for an additional brand featured at Stitzel-Weller and produced by the parent company Diageo; I W Harper 15-year-old bourbon.
I W Harper was pulled out of the US market during the whiskey depression of the 1990s but returned permanently in 2015. The 15-year-old features a handsome retro bottle with a satisfying flavor profile of cinnamon and dark chocolate. This is a well-balanced bourbon bottled at 86 proof. The beauty of the bottle, as well as the bourbon inside, makes this a great addition to your collection. It also would make an ideal gift.
The Bulleit distillery tour is worth the trip for the experience of visiting hallowed bourbon ground. Where else can you see the historical chimney that still proudly advertises the Old Fitzgerald brand or visit the birthplace of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon?
Melissa deftly walked us through the history of the location as well as explaining the unique vision of Thomas Bulleit who revived his old family bourbon recipe under the Bulleit brand name. On tour, you can see Tom Bulleit’s actual office located in the same buildings housing the tasting rooms. Additional highlights include the tax collectors house used for bottled in bond purposes and an actual coopers shop which was designed to repair barrels at the facility. While touring we were fortunate to meet the Licata’s visiting from Massachusetts. Being able to share a bourbon experience with good people is one of the benefits of my bourbon passion.
Stop by and see for yourself why The Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively, Kentucky and The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience is a must-see on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It is historical, with a good mix of bourbon to taste and appreciate.
Thanks for sharing your research and visits. You are a true ambassador (or fool) for the Bourbon Industry! Keep up the good work.
Dennis, thank you for your kind words!