Lexington, KY: Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. Tour

Last year while visiting Eric's dad for Christmas, we took a couple of bourbon distillery tours. We enjoyed them quite a bit and wanted to continue the tradition this year. We decided to try something very different: the newest distillery on the Bourbon Tour and one that also has a brewery, and it's located right near downtown Lexington. (The other tours we took, at Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace, are out in the beautiful rolling bluegrass countryside.)

Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. makes Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, which is one of my favorite beers. We didn't know they made bourbon until looking up ideas for bourbon tours. They are extremely new to bourbon (they opened the distillery side in 2011) and make a few other spirits as well, like gin, a coffee liqueur, and age a rum imported from Trinidad & Tobago.

The tour started us in the visitor's center, which is designed to mimic a street in Dublin (the owner is from Ireland). We watched a short video and met our tour guide. Tours were $11 each and included four (tiny) samples. You could pick whether to use your samples on beer or spirits, and Eric, his dad, and I needed to strategize with our samples.

From the visitor's center, we went to the brewery building. It is an extremely modern operation with most everything happening from a control room. We've been on many brewery tours and this was definitely the most techie in terms of operations. The only thing we didn't get to see was the bottling line, which is located in a different building not on the tour.

After the production area, we went to the brewery tasting room. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I didn't expect to have to decide whether I wanted to use one of my samples on beer before knowing what kind of spirits I wanted to try. It also felt like we were rushed during this tasting. The tour guide told us about all the items that would be available for sampling at the distillery, but I still think it would have been a little less panic-inducing to have everything available all together (I don't know if there is any law in Kentucky about this, though). We did wind up each trying a beer, and all three were really good! Obviously we have already had and enjoy the Bourbon Barrel Ale (their most popular), so we did not try that again, but Eric tried the Old Fashioned Barrel Ale, I tried the Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale, and Eric's dad got the Tequila Lime Ale. The Old Fashioned Barrel Ale is brewed with cherries and orange peel and aged in oak bourbon and bitters barrels and is supposed to be reminiscent of an old fashioned cocktail. It was tasty. The Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale was described by our tour guide as tasting like cream soda, so I had to try it to believe it, and it really did taste like cream soda. It does not taste like a traditional cream ale (I do not like traditional cream ales). The Tequila Lime was supposed to taste like a margarita, and it kind of did if it was on the rocks and bubbly. It was worth using three of our tasting tokens on these beers.

From the brewery, we crossed the street to the distillery, which definitely looks new, especially compared with the other tours on the Bourbon Trail. There isn't any delicious-smelling old dark room full of racks of bourbon, but there is a fancy copper kettle and two large vats, one that was full of water to keep the barrel from drying out, and one full of a warm wort-like liquid you can taste. It wasn't running, but we saw the bottling area, which is all done by hand five bottles at a time and then labeled, also by hand. There were a few racks of spirits but it definitely had a different feel to it than the other tours.

For tasting, the guide and his assistant made a little production out of the different spirits we could try, and it felt like they were going a bit fast (although not as quite as fast as with the beer) under the guise of trying to keep people who were doing a lot of Bourbon Trail tours in one day on time. But, we got to try everything we wanted to, and some of it was pretty good. We tried their normal bourbon, their 9 year aged rum, their premium bourbon, and their coffee liqueur. I don't even like coffee, and perhaps it was because I was under the weather and it was a hot drink on a cold day, but my favorite was the liqueur. It was also presented in a fun way mixed with boiling water and heavy cream floating on top. The normal (not premium) bourbon was the other one I liked. I wanted to like the rum but it was really strong and I needed to water it down. (Ice and water were both provided.)

If you are in Lexington and either don't have time to go out to one of the farther bourbon tours, or want an interesting experience of brewery + nearly brand new distillery, I recommend checking it out. Find more information about the tours here.

Lexington, KY: Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. Tour Lexington, KY: Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. Tour Reviewed by Maria on 5:59:00 PM Rating: 5

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