Visit Woodford Reserve in central Kentucky for an up-close look at one of the most recognized bourbon brands! Here's what to expect on tour.
Woodford Reserve is one of the original members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and also the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby!
This brand is synonymous with quality and legacy. So it's no wonder that a tour of the distillery is one of the top things to do in central Kentucky.
Here's what to expect if you visit Woodford Reserve!
Woodford Reserve has historic limestone buildings, and it's surrounded by gorgeous, rolling green hills and horse farmland in the Kentucky countryside.
Distilling has a long history on this site, with the first production happening about two hundred years ago! The main building is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
The distillery hasn't been in operation continuously, and it's gone by different names over the years. One of the 19th century owners, James E. Pepper, started up another distillery in Lexington, which fell into disuse but has been revitalized in recent years.
The current brand named Woodford Reserve began to be sold in 1996.
Touring Woodford Reserve Distillery
I recommend booking your tour online ahead of time. The "Path to Flavor" tour is a guided walk that can last a little over an hour, with a tasting at the end.
There are a few other ticketed experiences available, including a more extensive tasting with food pairing, or a VIP tour with one of the master distillers.
You'll check in at the visitor center and begin the tour from there.
The tour goes through the building with the mash tanks. Woodford uses Cyprus wood tanks for fermenting.
Woodford uses a triple still system for each batch of bourbon. The copper stills are gorgeous!
Next, you'll head to a rickhouse to see the aging barrels.
If you're interested in reading up on all things bourbon, we recommend the book Bourbon Curious by Fred Minnick.
Finally, the tasting! When we toured Woodford on Derby weekend nine years ago, we only got two samples, so this time I was excited to see four tastings, a bourbon ball and a small souvenir pin.
(Side note: Derby weekend — the first Saturday in May — is a very busy time at Kentucky's bourbon distilleries, so take that into account when making your plans!)
We tried Woodford's bourbon, rye whiskey, double oaked bourbon (my favorite) and a lemonade bourbon cocktail (yum!).
We ended our tour at the gift shop.
We took home the barrel-aged honey and used it (along with Woodford's double-oaked bourbon) in a honey old fashioned. It was delicious.
And the bourbon coffee we bought was amazing in a homemade honey cinnamon latte.
Woodford Reserve's bourbon balls are pretty special too, and make a fantastic gift.
If you're on the lookout for a quintessential Kentucky bourbon, I hope you get a chance to tour and try Woodford Reserve.
Have some extra time to spend in the Versailles area? We also recommend lunch at the Kentucky Castle!