Experiencing more than 40 tours at multiple distilleries gives you a great perspective on what makes a great distillery tour. The ability to communicate a story coupled with knowledge and completed with warmth and hospitality is the perfect combination. This does not always happen because some of the bourbon tours I have experienced sound like the guide is reciting a memorized script.
One of the very things that made me want to expand my bourbon knowledge base was hearing conflicting information during multiple tours. Now when I participate in a tour, I easily recognize a tour guide that knows their history, knows their product, and ultimately knows bourbon.
Recently I enjoyed one of the best tours I had ever experienced at Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. I have visited this distillery multiple times because of the beautiful view overlooking the Kentucky River. The location is historic, and we always enjoy stopping by. However, this time we had a tour guide that was special and dedicated to providing interesting and accurate information.
When checking in for our tour, the friendly staff explained to me that we were going to enjoy our tour because Beverly knows her bourbon. Not only was she friendly, but her explanation and understanding of both the history and relevant details of Wild Turkey was top shelf. She was a fan of Wild Turkey and spoke of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell with reverence and respect. Wild Turkey is a large operation that provides a family-style atmosphere. Beverly enjoys her job, and she shows it with enthusiasm.
This tour was the first time that the whiskey fungus that coats rick houses and other buildings was explained in detail including the scientific name. Baudoinia is the fungus that feeds off of the ethanol vapor released as the whiskey ages. Not everyone would notice that, but I welcome new information during a tour. Her explanation of Jimmy Russell’s comment about spirits: Vodka is a well-done steak, and Bourbon is a rare steak is a fun and interesting anecdote.
Wild Turkey is a must stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for anyone interested in bourbon. It is a large scale distillery with a smaller family type vibe. As mentioned in a previous post there is a good chance you may meet Jimmy Russell during your visit to Wild Turkey. Or maybe you will get a chance to talk to brand ambassador Joann who happens to be Mr. Russell’s granddaughter.
The bourbon at Wild Turkey is iconic, and the location is picturesque. There are a lot of great tour guides in the bourbon world, and if you are lucky, Beverly will be your guide. Truly, someone who never stops learning about the world of bourbon. Thank you Beverly for your kindness and knowledge in making our visit special. Congratulations on becoming a fellow Executive Bourbon Steward.