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A Photo Tour of the Bulleit Experience at Stitzel-Weller

Posted on by Eric Burke

I'm not going to say bad things...I'm not going to say bad things...I'm not going to say bad things...arghhh!

Ahem. Oh, hi. 

I love history. I love bourbon. And on those occasions where the two intersect, I normally get very happy.

Normally.

There are times and places where people have decided to make money off of the historical presence a place has. I have no problem with that. Then there are times where people know what history is in a place and choose to ignore it. It makes me sad, but I can't find my way toward being upset with them. But when you co-opt someone else's history, make up a bunch more and then toss in a heaping helping of deception? Then I get upset.  

I'm not going to go into the details (because Diageo is a big company with probably more lawyers on staff than people I know). Well, except to say that after I heard the tour guide say that the black fungus that grows on all distilleries was just "active alcohol" that had settled on the trees and buildings and that you couldn't take photos near the still or in the rickhouse because it was against the law...well, I decided to watch the time between truths. At one point I made it almost a half hour between accurate statements. And while they didn't explicitly say that all of Bulleit on shelves was distilled with one pot still (that you couldn't photograph), they did strongly infer that it was the case.

But, as a person who loves history and knew which things were right and which were wrong, I still enjoyed being there, wandering around and seeing all the buildings. And so, here are photos from the parts I enjoyed. I'd say read Sally Van Winkle Campbell's book, visit the gift shop and then decide if you can put up with all the BS you'll hear on the tour. If you can, take a tour. If you can't then just enjoy being there. 

Hey look! Actual old history...with a curiously named newer building in front of it. This is the view from outside the gift shop.

The campus as viewed from the first stop on the tour. the gray building is where "their still" is. The warehouse behind it is the one you get to step into. You can see almost the entire tour from here.

If you've heard of Stitzel-Weller and the Old Fitzgerald Distillery, you've heard of this sign. 

Inside the gray building. You can't take photos of the still room, but just outside of that are pieces of the old distilling setup. It's like a small museum where almost everything they tell you has been made up on the spot by tour guides.

I read in "But Always Fine Bourbon" about how all of those windows were open every morning and closed every evening by hand. 

You could take a photo from outside the doorway. For your safety and because it's "against the law" to take one from four inches farther in. Sure it is. I'm sure it has nothing to do with whose name might be on the barrels that you can't see from the doorway...anyone else notice that it looks like these have been sanded on the ends?

The tour to this point. The building on the right is the gift shop. Tour started there. The black buildings in back are more warehouses. That was the first stop where we "learned" what the black fungus...err..."active alcohol?" was. The brick and gray building to the left is where "their still" is.

The cooperage. I wonder how many hours it took a set designer to decide just where to put that barrel. It would have been an "ah HA" moment to behold when the inspiration came to lay it on its side.

The tour ended in the same building it started in. This time you got to walk in through Pappy's...I mean Tom Bulleit's...office. Then the tour guide makes fun of him, says how much she loves him and we do a tasting. It's fine. 


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