This past week Bad Wine Reviews made the pilgrimage to Kentucky, along with the rest of Ryan’s Taters, to pick a few barrels for Ryan’s Liquor up in Spring, Texas. The initial plan was to visit Old Forester and Barrell Craft Spirits but, as is tradition, a few more things may have happened along the way.
We arrived in Louisville, one of the Meccas of bourbon world, and had an awesome treat waiting for us - samples of Russell’s Reserve from Wild Turkey. You can watch the pick below.
Well that was fun eh? After this we pretty much had the rest of the afternoon / evening to explore and do hoodrat stuff. We ate some badass food at Eiderdown - a German restaurant in Germantown no less. They had all the typical German dishes, German beer and my favorite thing Germany has ever done - Spaetzle! I ate my weight in it and it was delicious. If you go and order said God nectar make sure to ask for the brown mushroom gravy. Don’t dick around with that nonsense white gravy.
After dinner we headed to a hole-in-the-wall bar called, Mr. Lee’s. When you first walk in there are three thoughts that go through your head, 1) I’m going to get stabbed, 2) Is this a dirty movie theater with how dark it is and 3) Why have I not been stabbed yet? But let me tell you something - there’s a little quote I came up with that perfectly describes this situation - never judge a book by its cover. You are greeted with a welcome drink that is quite delightful and their cocktails are outta control. This place was amazing. We got to know the bartender, Nick, and we got to talking about the bourbon scene, bars, world travel, etc. etc. We tried damn near everything up in that bitch. So to Nick, thank you, sir!
This was all followed up by heavy drinking. ON TO THE NEXT MORNING! Begrudgingly we awoke and made our way to downtown Louisville for our second pick - Old Forester. They of course had us wait in their gift shop until they were ready for us and I wanted to get my wife a candle (bitches love candles) but LMAO I’M NOT PAYING $54 FOR A CANDLE, GIRL.
As for the tour initially I figured it would be the whole lame MASHBILL, FERMENTATION, DISTILLATION, AGING, BARRELS, HUZZAHHHH deal, and it was some of that but I have to admit it was very well done. Coopers were actually coopering while we were there and you were constantly on the move. Thankfully our group was on a solo tour so we didn’t have to listen to moronic questions from people who want to sound smart. The best aspect was of course the end where we got to pick the barrel. Why you ask besides the obvious? Well the tour circled the area where we picked so other tour groups had to watch us drink bourbon and it made my snobbery extra tingly.
We sat down with their Pick Leader, I think his name is Tyler, and he was an awesome dude. One of those guys you want to drink with because he probably has cool stories like going to Taco Bell with Jimmy Buffett or stealing a disco ball. I dunno. Anyway we got to pick out the barrels, from a pre-selected set of course, we wanted to try and then we dun drilled through them ourselves and collected the booze into a cup. Pretty neat. I did enjoy we got to try the bourbon barrel proof (straight out of the barrel) and then at the bottling proof (watered down) of 90. Gave a great perspective to see how it changed with that water. You can see the barrel we selected below as we signed it to commemorate our amazingness. One of the other really cool things Old Forester does is they have a wall of pickers that shows every group that has picked and how many they’ve done - I don’t have a picture of that because I’m not good at remembering to take pictures.
After Old Forester we grabbed some lunch at a place next door called Side Bar. Great burgers, slow service and decently priced drinks. The milk shakes were off the chain though. We then spent the rest of the day hitting up downtown Louisville which was fantastic. Here’s a really quick recap: fuck Michter’s, Angel’s Envy meh, Haymarket Bar Yay (minus the whole rapey employer thing - just Google it), Yellowstone awesome because awesome guy we met and Jim Beam sorry we stepped in for AC to figure out our gameplan and then left.
Why fuck Michter’s you ask? Well see this picture. What that is, my frands, is their menu of THEIR bar. People come from all over to learn more and try their stuff they can’t normally get and they go and post these prices. That’s a JOKE! They should be embarrassed, ashamed and all that good stuff. I love capitalism but when your store front is for tourism - get fucked.
We of course went back to Mr. Lee’s to take them some stuff because we loved them so much. We hung out there for a while and then decided we probably had to eat before we died.
Alright so for dinner we were really drunk and we went somewhere I don’t remember. It was a beer type place. I got ribs and ate some of my buddy’s chicken and waffles because he was on another planet. More drinks, cigars and what-not then bed.
Queue the next morning - oh my God. It was rough but we persevered. We were set to go to Barrell Craft Spirits and away we went. Barrell, for those of you that don’t know, sources their product from other producers then ages and blends them to their hearts desire. It’s a pretty cool setup and we got to see their operation and it was fantastic. They were some of the most friendly, fun people we interacted with and was honestly the highlight of my trip. Due to their setup we were unable to take pictures of the barrel area but I did get a picture of our tasting room. Yes, we tried most of that and yes, we were feelin’ pretty damn good. We also picked TWO barrels and I am confident that people are going to tingle in their jinglies for these. But for now it’s a secret!
After the Barrell experience it was time to go home. I have to say Louisville is fantastic and I’m already looking forward to my next getaway there (August mwahahahaha!) for some Four Roses Single Barrel! The food, people, booze and ability to get around town in 10 minutes compared to the 892 for Houston were all delightful and I can see why people enjoy it so much.
3/4 of our barrels from this trip should drop this year and if you’re interested in learning more about them let me know. I am still hurting and I’ve probably taken a year or two off my life but it was totally worth it. I’ll see you soon, Kentucky you bad bitch.