Not every bourbon is made the same.
Joseph Head, the co-owner of The Century Bar in downtown Dayton, was seeking one with great character and taste when he invited friends and staff members to Buffalo Trace Distillery this week for a reserved behind-the-scenes tour and barrel selection.
The second part of the day included a private tasting led by barrel selection manager Beau Beckman.
I went along for the ride to the bourbon factory in Frankfort, Kentucky. It was an interactive tasting to say the least.
About 210 bottles of bourbon will be poured from the barrel selected and shipped to the Century Bar.
Joe plans to use the barrel as part of the bar’s barrel-age beer series with local breweries.
Like everyone else, Joe included, I got a lively lesson on everything from the fermentation to the passive solar architecture that helps give bourbon its flavor during the so-called Hard Hat Tour that started the day.
As it turns out, our tour guide was retired chemist Jeffrey Warnecke formerly of the Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab.
Joe said he’s been on the tour 16 times and has learned something new each time.
Like many Kentucky bourbon distilleries — those officially part of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Trail and those not — Buffalo Trace offers free tours.
Best of all, most of those tours comes with free tastings.
Jeffery’s tour was part of the Buffalo Traces free but reservation required Hard Hat Tour offered 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays.
It included everything from the cooking process to distillation. We sampled mash as it filed fermentation tanks so large they could easy fit school buses.
The no reservation required “Trace Tour” is offered 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.