Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Woodford Reserve Distillery, Labrot & Graham Proprietors

On Friday the 14th we went to tour the Woodford Reserve Distillery (formerly Labrot & Graham) in Versailles. Much like Maker's Mark, this distillery is a small time operation (owner by Brown-Forman, makers of Old Forester, in Louisville) as well as a National Landmark. They have a very in depth tour, over an hour and a half long, where they go inot rather in depth detail regarding the process of making their bourbon. the focus on the fact that they triple distill their bourbon (while most double) and use copper pot stills (while all others use a column still). It just might be the most beautiful active distillery out there, and the make a great product to boot! There is a quick synopsis of L & G below.

(Set in scenic Versailles, thoroughbred country.)(The visitor center.)(The distillery and warehouse. A small operation.)(The barrel run.)(Yeasty goodness!)(Triple distilled in Scottish copper pot stills.)
(Fresh of the still!)(New white oak barrels.l)(Resting.)(The very first and tenth anniversary barrels.)(A sample and some candy!)

Woodford Reserve
is a brand of premium bourbon whiskey made in the distillery formerly known as the Labrot & Graham Distillery, near Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky. (It changed its name to The Woodford Reserve Distillery in 2003.) The distillery is located in the heart of the horse farming country, off U.S. Route 60 between Interstate 64 and Versailles, offers tours, and is part of the American Whiskey Trail.

Woodford Reserve is the "Official Bourbon" of two of horse racing's most important events; The Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup. It is a 90.4 proof bourbon. One of the notable features is the numbering system that is used on each bottle. Every bottle is individually numbered with the batch number and bottle number.

The Distillery itself has been in operation since 1812, making it one of the oldest of nine working bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. In 1995, the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2000, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The distillery was originally built by Elijah Pepper. It was known as the Oscar Pepper Distillery when Dr. James Crow worked here in the 1820's and '30s. During this time he has been credited with developing the science of sour-mash fermenting. Later the plant became part of a group of Glenn's Creek distilleries operated by Col Edmund H. Taylor. It was purchased by Leopold Labrot and James Graham in 1878. Labrot and Graham operated it (except during Prohibition) until 1941. Wartime restrictions bankrupted Labrot and Graham, and the facilities were sold to Brown-Forman. They operated it until 1968 and then sold it in 1971. According to master distiller Lincoln Henderson (as of 2005), in 1994 Brown-Forman, while searching throughout several states for a location to "start up an old distillery with a lot of heritage", re-discovered their old property and re-purchased it. They also spent over seven million dollars to refurbish and restore the facilities.


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