Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Bourbon Heritage Month

Woodford Reserve Distillery Visit Bourbon Heritage Month

On The Road at Woodford Reserve in the Heart of the Bluegrass

Maybe it’s because I came of drinking age while living in Lexington. Maybe it’s because I have such vivid memories of horse racing at Keeneland, University of Kentucky football games and the numerous fraternity parties that followed….but in my mind fall entertaining will forever be linked with the taste of bourbon.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Kentucky bourbon delivers hints of spice, wood, citrus, and grains to your kitchen. Each bourbon has different attributes in flavors, nose, and finish. For cooking, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon is one of my favorites. I have a kitchen motto “When in doubt, go Woodford.”

Saturday, was the perfect autumn day to revisit Woodford Reserve Distillery. The day was mild, the sun soft and welcoming. Tourist fresh off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,   and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival were reveling in our Kentucky hospitality. Culinary junkies were wandering the grounds in anticipation of chef Jeremy Ashby’s Flavors of Fall culinary demonstraton and luncheon.

Woodford Reserve Limestone Water a critical ingredient for bourbon
Water, especially creeks gurgling with clear limestone water, is an element that triggers youthful reminiscences. As I stand on the banks of Grassy Springs Branch, I wonder how many have been there before me contemplating the calm, considering the smells of woodsy richness and damp earth, and dreaming of bourbon and redemption.

Bourbon is made chiefly with corn, the basis for sweetness. Malted Barley, barley that has been wetted and sprouted, brings the yeasty mellowing component to bourbon. Rye, spicy and floral, bridges the grain flavor profiles adding character and a little love bite! Giggles

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Grains Corn, Malted Barley and Rye


Fermenting and distilling is accomplished through a process that looks akin to a scene from McBeth…..”Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble.” Bubbles….and then some. Visitors are cautioned not to breathe over the cypress vats; the carbon dioxide given off can be powerful enough to cause fainting.
Woodford Reserve Fermenting Bourbon

Eventually, the mash completes processes that make a clear alcoholic liquid. Placed in charred American White Oak barrels the liquid is then stored in warehouses. Woodford’s rick system is different from other distilleries, in that they do not rotate the stock from top to bottom. Instead, the warehouse has a steam system that makes the barrels expand and contract allowing the tannins and sugars of the oak to permeate the alcohol. Barrels are stored an average of 6 – 7 years. Over that time the flavors concentrate, and much of the liquid is “lost” to the “Angels Share.” Because the aging process elevates the alcohol content, a special water added to bring the bourbon into compliance with Federal regulations.

How Can we get this barrel in the car?  Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Each barrel weighs about 500 lbs. Just so you know, they won’t fit into car…but it was a good thought.

The bottling process takes place on the Woodford Property. Many folks collect the commerative bottles issued each spring…..Woodford Reserve being the “Official Bourbon of Kentucky Derby.” Master Distiller, Chris Morris also releases special mixtures from time to time.

Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail showcases the various distilleries, much like Napa Valley highlights different wineries. Y’all come to Kentucky for a visit, and see what I am talking about. Buy some bourbon for sipping….but don’t forget bourbon is a wonderful addition to your cooking repertoire.

Here’s a link to Chef Jeremy Ashby at Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery luncheon. Check back for a chat with Woodford Reserve’s Chef-in-Residence Ouita Michel and ideas for holiday entertaining.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by Woodford Reserve. I choose the brand because many of my readers are not bourbon experts. Woodford Reserve is a good starting point, and as a culinary ingredient is nearly always a winner.

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Recipes Featuring Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Bourbon Tomato Jam Recipe
Praline Peach Cobbler Recipe Inspired by 82 Queen Restaurant
Paw Paw Cake Recipe
Bourbon Sorghum Caramels Recipe

Sour Cream Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe with Bourbon Sauce
Apple Cider Bourbontini Cocktail
Bourbon Southern Sweet Tea Cocktail Recipe

Friends Drift Inn receives a small commission from purchases made through affiliate links.


Bourbon Part I Three “Sure Bets” for KY Derby
Brown Derby Cocktail Recipe
Chef Jeremy Ashby at Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery
Inn Step with Chef Ouita Michel
Learning to Taste at Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.