Rolling barrels at a tour of ISC’s Kentucky Cooperage

Independent Stave Company is the world’s largest barrel company, and their Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon, KY is the world’s largest cooperage. And let’s not forget that a key requirement for bourbon whiskey is that it be aged in new, charred oak barrels. So you might be surprised to learn that the Kentucky Cooperage isn’t on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail, even though it plays an absolutely critical role in bourbon. So I had to visit and take a tour as part of my distillery roadtrip.

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When in Bardstown: Drink at Talbott’s Tavern

How could I resist stopping in for a drink at the Talbott’s Tavern, the world’s oldest bourbon whiskey bar while I was staying in Bardstown on the distillery roadtrip? There’s also a restaurant, but I thought it would be more fun to go to the bar, where I could try whiskies that weren’t available in Singapore (that’s a long list, unfortunately).

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Enjoying the breeze at Bardstown Bourbon Company

We’ve now come to the Kentucky portion of my distillery road trip. I’ve been to Kentucky many times in my life, but this is my first trip into bourbon country. And I’ll never forget the first breath I took when I stepped out of my car in the Bardstown Bourbon Company parking lot. There’s nothing like the sweet smell of aging bourbon, and I had a huge grin on my face as I walked across the parking lot to the distillery. Now you know what I meant by the title – enjoying the breeze!

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Beer and whiskey at Corsair’s Marathon taproom and distillery

After a disappointing unplanned stop at another tasting room, I really needed a beer. Fortunately Corsair Distillery’s Marathon location was able to help, as they have sixteen taps of beers (and ciders) from Nashville craft breweries in addition to their own spirits! This is the next stop on the roadtrip.

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Tennessee Legend Distillery at Marathon

My next stop on the tour wasn’t planned, and I’d never heard of this distillery before. I was actually at Marathon Village to visit Corsair Distillery’s first Tennessee location, but I got there quite a bit earlier than I expected and saw a sign for another distillery in the same building. Of course, I couldn’t resist checking it out.

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A tour of Corsair Distillery’s Headquarters

The next stop on this summer’s roadtrip is in Nashville, and is the first of two visits to Corsair Distillery locations. This is their HQ location, the newer of their two Nashville distilleries and home to, well, their HQ offices as well as their whiskey and gin stills, bottling line, lots of cask aging space, and a cocktail bar. I’ll make a separate post about their Marathon location later.

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Stopping in at Chattanooga Whiskey’s experimental distillery

If you’re keeping count (and you’re not), this is the third stop on my trip, and the first distillery outside of Georgia. Chattanooga Whiskey is another favorite distillery of mine. They call their bourbon style “Tennessee High Malt”, with each batch containing a minimum of 25% malted grain. They also produce rye and a series of limited edition spirits that have included amaros, aquavit, gin, single malts, infusions, and barrel finishes.

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A taste of Lee & White in Atlanta’s West End

Atlanta’s Beltline project has driven some new developments in Atlanta, and the Lee & White warehouse redevelopment project near Adair Park is an example of the kind of thing that Beltline supporters hoped to see. This isn’t a real estate or urban planning blog, so rather than digging into those aspects of the development, I’m going to talk about some of the distilleries and breweries you might find there. Hop City calls Lee & White “Malt Disney”, and with three breweries, a bottle shop, a distillery, a kombucha brewery, and many restaurants and bars on site (along with open containers allowed on the property), it’s understandable.

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Visiting Atlanta’s Old Fourth Distillery

The first stop on my distillery tour (here’s a full list of all the stops) was Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta. Opened in 2014, they’re the first legal distillery to open in Atlanta in the post-Prohibition era. They’re in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, hence the name. Interestingly, they helped fund it in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign, though with a low goal of $40,000 I think the crowdfunding campaign was probably more about marketing and outreach than raising funds, and I’ll have to remember that if I’m ever in the position of opening my own distillery.

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