6 Reasons to Visit ShelbyKY’s Newest Distillery
The Bulleit Distilling Co. has opened its doors to visitors with a tour fit for any pioneering frontier guests.
The Bulleit portfolio of spirits is known for its distinctive high rye recipe, which gives them a bold, spicy taste. That taste contributes quite a bit to the fact that they have been named the best-selling rye whiskey brand in the world for the last 6 years. More than 30 percent of all rye bourbon sold in the United States is of the Bulleit brand. Previously made in their distillery in Shively, just five years ago, this growing brand chose a corn field on Benson Pike to construct their new operation, and has given visitors an incredible experience to see, smell, hear and yes, even taste, the product that is made right here in ShelbyKY.
When experiencing “The Frontier Whiskey Experience” tour, you will learn all about the cultural creators, entrepreneurs, and tastemakers that helped revive Augustus Bulleit's high-rye whiskey and create the bold, beloved Bulleit Frontier Whiskey of today. Here are six reasons why you need to add this tour to your next weekend agenda.
- Admire the unique and beautiful artwork, much done by local artists.
Upon entering the visitor center you’ll notice a verity of custom art and exhibits. Tour guide, Matt Schettino, noted the themes of art work throughout the property, such as the eco-friendly bus, powered by propane, to transport you to the operational portion of the distillery. The bus ceiling has been spray painted by Louisville graffiti artist Braylyn “Resko” Stewart. Try to spot the words and phrases which not only accurately describes the Bulleit brand, but were also inspired by the Berlin Wall.
The distillery its self is adorned much like gallery walls with large images of the limited-edition, iconic bottles designed by tattoo artists from around the world, released last summer. Run your hands through the grains incorporated into the recipe, at the start of the production process, and learn about the historic features integrated throughout the property.
- Learn how ShelbyKY resources are used to make Bourbon
Did you know why Kentucky is home to so many Bourbon brands? Because of our crazy Kentucky weather, the frequent change from hot to cold causes the barrels to expand and contract. Given that the bourbon is resting in these barrels, this is actually what causes the movement of the bourbon to move in and out of the barrel staves and pick up their color from the char. Neat, huh? This is just one of the facts I learned on this jam-packed tour.
Diageo was able to incorporate and utilize many local resources in the creation of the bourbon. The 6-million-gallon lake on property provides the water used in the making of the bourbon, and is filled from Guist Creek Lake, just across the road. Solar panels cover the property solely powering many operational components. While the original barn from the previous farm has been preserved on the property, many trees had to be removed for construction. Bulleit is working with the University of Kentucky to add trees back to the property.
- They make a great summer cocktail and have the perfect place to drink it.
Tours include a newly designed interactive sensory tasting of Bulleit’s bourbon, rye, 10-year, and barrel strength brands, giving you a chance to discover the unique notes of each. The tasting pairs each one with scents to bring out particular flavors of the bourbon. Once you’ve picked your favorite, you can visit the bar, outfitted with a live plant photo wall – the perfect photo spot. The bartenders offer suggestions of drink combinations, making you the perfect cocktail. However, you may want to try one of the cocktails they have on tap, such as Bulleit Summer Solstice which was a refreshing mix of Bulleit Bourbon, Limoncello, and Dry Vermouth. The connecting patio is the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets on this beautiful piece of ShelbyKY.
- This is the place to shop for unique gifts for the Bourbon lover in your life.
If you want to see the epitome of a gift shop – this is where it is. They have the perfect gift for really anyone in your life. Their gift shop comes fully stocked with unique gifts to memorialize your stop at the distillery. From candles, embroidered blue jean jackets, Stetson hats, leather flasks and, of course, bourbon, there is something for everyone. However, the gift you can give over and over again starts at the “Label Studio” where you can customize three lines on their infamous orange labels, which makes gift possibilities endless! The machine prints out your custom label and you can easily wrap it around a bottle, and it looks just like an original.
- You might just run into Mr. Tom Bulleit himself.
No really! Mr. Bulleit has an office right in the Visitor Center building. His office overlooks the entrance to the building and is fully stocked with Diet Coke and Frito Chips. Now, that’s my kind of office. Staff in the Center said that Mr. Bulleit works from that office quite frequently and likes to come out and converse with guests. His portrait greets you as you walk into the Center, alongside his favorite quote, “If you find your Frontier, you will find yourself.” His bio also shares the favorite way he likes to drink his whiskey: on the rocks.
- You can check off another stop on the Bourbon Trail.
The ShelbyKY Bulleit Distillery was the latest stop added to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, becoming the 17thstop on the Trail. If you are unfamiliar with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, it was developed in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers Association, meant to create a road trip-style experience for bourbon lovers to visit the Bluegrass State’s signature distilleries. You are just getting started, you can pick up a free souvenir passport at any stop along the Trail and collect stamps at every distillery on your journey to commemorate your visits. Those that complete the Trail receive a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tasting Glass.
The Bulleit Distilling Co. is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30am to 4:00pm, and closed on Sunday and Monday and major holidays. Tours run every hour with the first tour beginning at 10:00am, and the last tour beginning at 3:00pm. Reservations are highly recommended, but not required. Up to 29 people can participate in a tour at a time. Tours are $20 per person and include a tasting of the Bulleit portfolio for adults over 21. Tours are free for those under 18. Book Now!
Plan your trip with help from the ShelbyKY Commission & Visitors Bureau at 502-633-6388 or VisitShelbyKY.com.
Written by Allie Hembree Martin
Allie Hembree Martin is a native ShelbyKYian, residing now in Louisville where she lives with her husband, Brandon. Allie is a podcast host, frequent contributor to national publications, and runs a brand management company, Fame and Fortune.