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Bourbon Trail Distillery Tour Review: Jim Beam

Posted on by Eric Burke

It is still raining when we leave Maker’s Mark. Raining so hard that we at times we need to slow down as the wipers can’t keep up. We’d planned to go to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln this afternoon. But, that’s out due to weather. So what else can we do?

I know! We’d planned to go to Jim Beam tomorrow, but we might be able to get a tour in yet today. Let’s give it a shot! 

I’m not all that excited to go on a tour because everything I’ve read states that this is a self guided tour. They list tour times on the Bourbon Trail site so I’m confused. But I figure I’ll figure out when I get there so off we go.

The rain is letting up by the time we get to the Beam Distillery. As we walk up to the steps to the gift shop, the sun is even peaking out. There’s a nice lady inside the front door. I ask her when the next tour starts and she tells me that it’s coming soon. Cool. We use the rest room and wander around the gift shop for a while. Here I get my first hint that Beam makes something other than the White label that I never really cared for. I’m intrigued and am starting to get to the point where I can’t wait for the tour to start. 

We gather at the back of the gift shop and head out the side door. The first stop of the tour is the old house. We looked at the old photos and saw a very small working still. This is pretty cool. I must admit. After that is the obligatory movie. They all do this and they are all pretty good. This is no exception. 

The tour guide answers some questions for us and we head out the back door. Now some of this part is the old self guided part, we kind of breeze past that with a promise that if we come back next September (2012) we’ll get tour of the distillery for the first time. But for now we get an enthusiastic tour guide who tells us stories and paints us word pictures. 

We work our way down to an aging warehouse. Oh man. That’s heaven. This is the money part of the tour. Our tour guide, I wish I could remember her name, gave us such a description of the aging process that even though I’d been on 5 previous tours at 5 other distilleries, I felt like I learned something. Then it was out for a tasting.

We got to taste the Basil Hayden and the Knob Creek Single Barrel. Both are awesome. At this point my mind officially changes regarding Jim Beam. 

I loved this tour. It was short and you didn’t see as much of the process as you do at others, but the enthusiasm of the tour guide made it the most fun tour of the six we went to. This tour is FUN. Capital letters. And if your only exposure to a Beam bourbon is the white label, especially take the tour, get the tasting. If your a fan, you’ll love it. If you are not, you’ll change your mind. 

This was the tour where we got our last stamp on our passports. Our t-shirt stop. So fun.