Exploring the Humanity of Bourbon at Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve Distillery

A tour of the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery outside Lexington, Kentucky explores modern techniques making classic whiskey.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

Bourbon and driving do not go together. However, the same dedication to detail and craftsmanship can pour into the making of both.

During a recent trip to Kentucky to explore the inner-workings of the Lexus plant there that build the ES,  the automaker arranged a side trip to explore the Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Lexington. While whiskey and luxury automobiles seem like an odd metaphoric combination, the techniques employed at both prove quality products emerge thanks to the human touch.

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To build their cars, Lexus employs human beings to oversee the making of each vehicle — using their dexterity, sensitivity and discretion to bleed a unique feel into the ride. The minds behind Woodford Reserve blend that intimate human touch with classic techniques and modern equipment to produce their top shelf American Bourbon.

While Woodford Reserve opened in 1996, a distillery of one sort or another has stood on the same land since 1780. While Prohibition might’ve stopped production and forced other uses for the land, Woodford Reserve now has a full-time operation piling up the barrels for aging.

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Woodford Reserve currently makes its classic Bourbon, the double-barreled and richer Double Oaked, a delicious Rye Whiskey and The Master’s Collection that offers a variety of grains and aging techniques. Regardless of the make, the whiskeys coming out of the distillery all age five to nine years and sold in small batches. Once what’s made for a year is sold, Woodford Reserve moves on to the next year.

Below you’ll find a photographic exploration of the Woodford Reserve tour, including a look at the classic process for producing quality American bourbon.