When the tour features a tasting, you know there’ll be a crowd

A bourbon and a whiskey walk into a bar.

Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I was going to explain the difference between bourbon and whiskey and Google got me so confused, I feel like I need a drink.

Here’s what I know for sure: Kentucky is known for its bourbon, and we enjoyed a tour of the Four Roses Distillery today in Lawrenceburg.

A fine tour it was. We saw the process of distilling bourbon close up, enjoyed a little of Four Roses’ lovely Spanish Mission-style architecture and sipped a few samples of bourbon.

The final product.

Well, my Beloved sipped a few samples. I tried and gagged. I got sick on whiskey once, and despite the culture wars over the difference between bourbon and whiskey, they taste too much alike for my taste. I wrote about my bad experience here (personally, I think it’s one of my better posts so there’s something to the old saying that tragedy + time = comedy).

Bourbon mash ferments in enormous wooden vats before being distilled. For the record, this is what whiskey looks like when it’s mixed with too many wine coolers and not enough drinking experience, too.

Still, I’d recommend the tour. I learned Four Roses Bourbon is popular in Japan and that a marketing SNAFU watered down the brand so much in the United States that the Four Roses name took decades to recover. They must be doing OK now because they just opened a new visitor’s center and gift shop last month.

The name has romantic origins involving the founder, his love for a Southern belle and a wrist corsage worn to a grand ball. It may be more legend than truth though, since at least one online version of the story tells that the founder never married. Still, rose bushes grow beautifully on the grounds of the factory.

My legendary Beloved says Four Roses bourbon tastes pretty standard. “It wasn’t that great” is his direct quote. He bought a hat at the gift shop but not a bottle of the supposedly mellow liquor.

Hey, you’ve got to admit: Four Roses is a better name than Fighting Cock, Wild Turkey or some guy named Ezra or Basil.


3 responses to “When the tour features a tasting, you know there’ll be a crowd

  1. Whiskey is a general term for any distilled beverage made from grain mash. Bourbon is a very specific type of whiskey (as is Scotch).

    Quite frankly, I file them all under “paint thinner.” 😀

  2. Hey there is a new whiskey distillery in Osakis, MN – Panther Distillery, they are still getting their license in order but it’s coming!!! Watch out Jack Daniels.

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