Lux Row Distillers: Distillery Tour

Posted on by Eric Burke

It’s Bourbon Heritage Month and as such, I am celebrating all things bourbon. Not just the liquid, but travel, tours, and book, as well. Tonight, I’m taking a look at the newly opened Lux Row Distillery in Bardstown, KY.

While in Bardstown, I made sure to stop in and grab a tour at the newly completed Lux Row Distillers. I was at the name announcement ceremony two years ago when the grounds consisted of a historic home and a large pile of dirt. I was really looking forward to seeing the finished result. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a beauty of a distillery. The fact that it is also very obviously a working distillery first and a tourist attraction second just adds to the charm.

Upon walking up to the distillery, I was struck by how welcoming it looked. I knew this was a manufacturing facility, but it looked like someone’s house. (A house well out of my price range, but a house none-the-less.)

The tour started with a movie. They all seem to. It’s a nice efficient way to bring everyone up to speed. After the movie we stepped out into the manufacturing floor. They had two 4,000-gallon cookers that feed twelve 8,000-gallon fermenters. Four of the fermenters were open for tourists to experience, the other eight were closed like the ones shown above.

After making our way around the cookers and fermenters, we were at the stills. The stills live in a lovely, though very warm, room with large windows to show off all the lovely copper.

Out the windows is a nice view of the 200 year-old house that was the main structure standing on the grounds the fist time I visited the property. They have plans for it that they didn’t disclose, but said that for now it is only used for storage.

I thought this was a nice bit of transparency. As you may know, until recently, Luxco was not in the business of distilling bourbon. They were in the business of buying, blending, and bottling bourbon. (In a fun tidbit, they admitted that the current stocks are coming from Jim Beam and Heaven Hill.) As such, with a distillery that has been producing spirit for less than a year, they are filling barrels, but not yet dumping any. And they told us as such when they pointed out the dumping station in the foreground. They roughly said: it’s here for when we need to start using it in four or more years. I liked that. It’s nice to see companies that are not trying to sell a fantasy.

After we saw where barrels are filled (if it wasn’t a Saturday during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival), we move over to where they are stored after they are filled. With this one, they took steps to make sure that the view was worth the walk over.

Unlike most of the Lux Row aging warehouses (or those from most other companies for that matter) this aging warehouse was built with visitors in mind and has a large viewing area inside the front of the warehouse. These very large beams keep all those barrels in place even though there would normally be more supports (and barrels) in their place.

I know every warehouse has a view something like this, but I just liked the photo.

We finished the tour in the tasting room. It was a lovely tasting room. Lots of copper. We tasted Rebel Yell, Ezra Brooks, and David Nicholson 1843. In the process we got to meet members of the Lux family who were in town for the festival. And in another fun tidbit, I learned that if you are looking at the labels of a Luxco bourbon, you can tell if it is wheated or not but the color of the label. All the wheated bourbons have a white label (aside from the Rebel Yell Single Barrel whose label is painted on).

I thoroughly enjoyed my tour at Lux Row Distillers. The grounds were as beautiful as I remembered. The distillery and gift shop were welcoming, and the information was accurate and transparent. Honestly, what more can you ask for? accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, please visit Thanks!

Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America's Whiskey by Carla Carlton (and other stuff I'm giving away)

Posted on by Eric Burke

It’s Bourbon Heritage Month and as such, I am celebrating all things bourbon. Not just the liquid, but travel, books, and merch as well. Tonight we talk about a book that I’ve had on my reading list for over a year now.

I have had Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America's Whiskey by Carla Carlton on my Reading List for over a year. I bought the book right after it came out. Possibly even pre-ordered it since I tend to do that. The book arrived and I set it in a pile of other books to read the next time I went on vacation.

Eventually I went on vacation. And I promptly lost the book. But the funny thing was that I didn’t realize I lost the book until I was packing for the next vacation and tried to find it. I knew that I had been too busy to read on the previous trip, but it wasn’t in my travel bag. And it wasn’t in my office…or my living room…didn’t get brought down to the library I keep in the lower level…it wasn’t even in my bedroom with the stack of books I keep in there.

So I bought the book again on my Kindle to read on my way to Kentucky last week. Upon my return home…I found the book on the bookshelf in my office where I keep my bourbon books. I couldn’t find it because I had put it away.


But guess what? I do not regret buying the book twice. It’s a damn fine book. It is informative, yet written in an approachable and entertaining manner. The author draws on both other recognized sources as well as interviews with people inside the bourbon industry. In other words, you can trust that she knows what she is talking about. I’d say this is a fantastic book for those just getting into bourbon history. And even if you already know all there is to know about the subject, it is still a fun read. I highly recommend you go buy it. Maybe even twice like I did.

However, even though I purchased the book twice, I find that I don’t need both a physical and a digital copy. And since the digital copy takes up less room, I’d like to pass the physical one along to one of my loyal readers. Not only that, but I’d like to give you a lot of other bourbon stuff that I’ve gathered over the years. These are either items that I thought were cool enough to buy (but never ended up using) or items that I was given along with samples/while attending events. (None of these were provided by the brands or authors for the purpose of giving away and they are not affiliated with the give away. I just wanted to be nice.)

For a view of what is being given away, see below the entry form. Contest ends on Friday, September 28th and winners will be chosen randomly after the contest conclude. Winners will be notified via email. Good Luck! accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, please visit Thanks!

Old Forester Distillery Tour at the Old Forester Distilling Co., Louisville, KY

Posted on by Eric Burke

It's Bourbon Heritage Month and I just got back from Kentucky so I thought it might be a good time to highlight some Bourbon Fun. Tonight, I’m taking a look at the Old Forester Distilling Co. A new visitor experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville, KY.

Hey! I’m back from my annual trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival…only this year, I really didn’t go to the Festival all that much. I only went to two events that were officially part of the Festival, and only one was a paid, ticketed event. It’s odd, but I might be falling out of love with the KBF. All of the prices have increased to the point where I just don’t want to pay them anymore. Which, on one hand, really sucks. I don’t like to be priced out of things I enjoy (welcome to bourbon in 2018…amirite?) But on the other, it did allow me to have a lot of other experiences that I normally wouldn’t have had time for.

Experiences like tours of some of the new distilleries (or distillery-like experiences) that have popped up since I last took the time to wander away from Bardstown. One of the tours I took was of the new Old Forester Distilling Co. experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville.

When you walk in the door, you are immediately greeted by a large brick and wood room that contains a desk for checking into your tour (or buying tickets) and a waiting area. This is where your tour will start. Depending on how early you arrive, you may decide to visit the gift shop. they will certainly let you, but in true Disneyland fashion, you will also exit the tour into the gift shop as well. So when you give them your money is up to you.

If you choose to visit the Gift Shop before you take your tour, you will be greeted with the best view of the tall copper column still (as well as branded merchandise and multiple bottles that are available for purchase).

By a strange coincidence, one of my fellow tour-takers was a distiller from England who was there as a guest of Brown-Forman and Campbell Brown, the President of Old Forester (who also tagged along for a good portion of the tour as well). This meant that not only were there a few more geeky questions than you normally find on a typical bourbon distillery tour, but we also got a few more candid and honest answers than you would usual too.

Above is the entry to the official “tour area” this area talks about their mash bill and the benefit of Kentucky water.

One of the especially candid answers we received on the tour related to the fermenters (shown above). When the English Distiller (whose name or company I have forgotten) asked why they had open fermenters instead of closed ones, Mr. Brown answered that it was because it provided a better visitor experience and that they have closed fermenters in the big distillery. I enjoyed the candor. It’s refreshing to go on a distillery tour and not be overloaded with marketing speak.

When we stopped to take a look at the still, which I had already seen in the gift shop, I turned around and looked at the other wall which featured these windows showing where spirit at various parts of the distilling run would be visible. One thing I liked about the tour, was that it was really set up to be an education in to how bourbon is made for the average consumer. They wouldn’t have had to have made all the extra graphics to explain what was going on, but they took the time to do it. Nice touch.

Of course the highlight of the tour was the barrel making area. And not just because we happened to have one of the cooper’s grandfather and other older relatives on the tour with us (though watching the young kid sneak up to surprise an elderly great-aunt with a hug was heartwarming as well). Once again, they showed all the steps and let us know which pieces of equipment were state-of-the-art and which were from a previous era of barrel making. More refreshing candor. Some things were just there because it made a better show on a small scale, not because they were efficient on a large scale.

This was our tour guide (I forget her name because her hair covered her name tag and I’m bad with remembering names at the best of times). In any case, she was excellent. Normally, I have a conversation with myself regarding the things they are over simplifying or just plain getting wrong. I didn’t have that conversation here. She was very knowledgeable and I don’t remember a single of noticeable error.

This was a pretty cool machine. It was a hydraulic press that put the hoops on the barrel. I don’t remember seeing anything like this when I toured Independent Stave a few years ago, but my memory is notoriously bad (and it may have been behind the scenes as well). Still, having been a metal-stamping press operator for a few years after high school, this looked like much more fun (and much less noisy) than those were. It even had a JoyStick!

Of course after you build a barrel, you need to test it. And this was where my fellow tour taker’s nephew/grandson came in. He basically adds some water, fills it with air and looks for bubbles.

This is a fairly small distillery by big bourbon standards, but it is a working distillery none-the-less. And they say that some of the liquid that is being made on sight is also being aged on site. Not sure how I’d feel about all that flammable liquid being there, if I was Duluth Trading Company next door.

And this is a bottling line. Once again, it seemed like it was there so you could see a bottling line and learn what they do. It was running pretty slowly compared to others I’ve seen in other distilleries.

And no tour would be complete without a tasting at the end. This tour offered tastes of Old Forester 86 proof, Old Forester Statesman, and Old Forester 1897 bottled in Bond.

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Overall, I really enjoyed the tour. There was little, to no, “Marketing BS” and the entire place was set up not only to show you how bourbon was made, but also to help you learn about how bourbon is made. Plus it was fun! And honestly, that’s just as important at the end of the day. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!

Four Roses 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch, 130 Anniversary Edition

Posted on by Eric Burke

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Four Roses for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

As I write this, I am sitting in a car somewhere between Bloomington and Champaign Illinois while my wife drives us to Lousiville. Rural Illinois is pretty dull. Aside from the occasional lousy roadside poem highlighting a fear of "thugs" and a warning about how only a gun can keep you safe from them, there isn't much to keep your interest. We are tormenting ourselves with a drive across Illinois and Indiana because we are in the early hours of our annual trip to Kentucky to visit friends and attend the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, KY. 

One of the annual highlights of my September visit to Kentucky is that I can generally get my hands on a bottle of the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, which is released during the Festival. And while these releases are always good, some of them are a little better than others. And since I usually only review them well past the time any reader has any hope of getting a bottle for themselves, these reviews were less a useful resource and more a humble brag about being able to get one. 

This year, however, Four Roses was kind enough to offer me a review sample ahead of the product's release so that I could share my thoughts in a much more timely manner. I graciously accepted. Both because it would be more useful for you, the reader and because this way I will also know how hard to work at getting a full bottle for myself. 

So what are the details on this year's release? It will be released at both the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, and the Cox's Creek Warehouse & Bottling Facility on September 15th, 2018 at 9 am (Eastern). Limited distribution will roll out to the rest of the country in the weeks following. The suggested retail price will be $140 (which makes me cry a little inside when I realize I paid only $80 for my 2009 Mariage). The bourbon is made up of a 10-year-old OBSV, a 13-year-old OBSF, a 14-year-old OESV, and 16-year-old OESK. My sample says it is bottled at 54.2% ABV though the press release claims 108.3° proof so the final bottling will be somewhere around there, I guess. But less important than what it is, is how it tastes.

Four Roses 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch, 130 Anniversary Edition

Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided by Four Roses. The suggested retail price is $140 for a 750 mL bottle. 

Details: A blend of 10-year-old OBSV, a 13-year-old OBSF, a 14-year-old OESV, and 16-year-old OESK. 54.2% ABV.

Nose: Caramel, nutmeg, cherry/almond.

Mouth: Very warm and spicy. Caramel, baking spices, cherry, and ripe peaches. 

Finish: Long, hot, and spicy. Lingering fruits, oak, and vanilla.

Thoughts: Ok, yes. This is very good. But, no. This is not my favorite of the Limited Small Batch Releases. It's not even my favorite of recent releases. That honor still goes to last year's 2017 edition due to its comparatively easy drinking floral fruitiness.

2018's release is a different beast entirely (most likely by design as I know they try to vary it from year to year to exercise and showcase their creativity). Unlike 2017's release, this is a hot and spicy beast of a dram. It is hot. The caramel is at the forefront, and the spice will bite you if you aren't prepared for it. The fruit is still there, but this year it plays more in the ripe, juicy peaches and cherry range. This is not a "mellow" bourbon. 

But it is a very good bourbon, and a lot of people will love this. Personally, I like it, but am not in love with it. Of course, that won't stop me from trying to get my hands on a bottle again this year. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!

Corner Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon: Revisited

Posted on by Eric Burke

It's the first week of Bourbon Heritage Month so I thought I'd take a look back and revisit a couple of older brands. Tonight's is Corner Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Though Corner Creek is older for a "modern" bourbon brand, it isn't a historic one. The brand has been around since 1988. In his 2004 book, Bourbon Straight, Chuck Cowdery wrote about it being a "4-grain" bourbon. Though he admitted it was likely a mix of Rye and Wheated styles. He liked it when he wrote the book.

I did not agree when I published my first review in 2012. 2,088 days ago to be exact, on December 19, 2012. It was only the 8th whiskey review I'd published on the site. But it might have been one of the earlier sets of tasting notes that I'd put down to paper since in that post I was publishing tasting notes from a year prior to that. At the time, I was not a fan. Though I was too timid in yet to say so and gave it a "meh" rating. 

At the time of my review, it was sold in a tinted green wine bottle. It was still sold that way when I purchased my first bottles sometime in 2010/2011. I'm not sure who the brand owner was at the time, but the label was submitted for approval by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (Willett) out of Bardstown, KY. Not surprising since they did a nice bit of business sourcing whiskey and bottling it for brands other than their own. 

These days, the wine bottle is still around, but it is now clear. I'm still not sure who the brand owner is, but the most recent label approval was submitted by Kentucky Artisan Distillers out of Crestwood, KY. These are the same folks who house the Jefferson's Bourbon Visitor Center and, I assume, have a hand in that brand as well. The name has changed slightly in the intervening years as well. Until the most recent label approval, this was always known as Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Whiskey. Now it is Corner Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Corner Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Purchase Info: $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle at MGM Wine and Spirits, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 44% ABV. Non-age Stated. 

Nose: Fruity and aromatic. You can catch the fruitiness on this one as you pour it into the glass. Along with that are dried grass, mint, and caramel. 

Mouth: Slightly underripe peaches (just before they turn into a sweet juicy mess), caramel and nutmeg. 

Finish: Medium length and dry. Lingering fruit and nutmeg.

 IMAGE: A hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this much more than I did 6 years ago. And I don't think that is as much of a reflection on the relative bourbons as it is on how my palate has changed while I've been writing here. I'm much more open to flavor profiles that are out of the ordinary than I was back then.

This is certainly a "change-of-pace" bourbon, but it isn't a bad one. In that respect, it reminds me of Jefferson's. Both are a little outside the typical bourbon flavor gamut. It is very fruity, almost reminding more of a fruit brandy than a bourbon. Overall, I like it. I'm upgrading this to a "Like" rating. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!