My favorite distillery tour of our Bourbon Trail trip came after we thought we were bourboned-out for the weekend. Driving up I-71, we saw a brown, local attractions roadsign listing Boone County Distilling Co. We figured it was on our way, so why not stop in for a tasting?
We arrived just in time to make the next tour, which we were pleased by, but not overly excited about. After all, we’d spent all weekend touring distilleries, and both of us had toured distilleries before. Going in, we were guilty of having that “seen one, seen ‘em all” attitude toward distilleries.
As it turns out, you can still learn new things on your fifth or sixth distillery tour.
Boone County Distilling Co. is quite small. In fact, they only set up shop back in 2015. That means that, as a bourbon distiller, they haven’t even finished aging their first barrel yet. Since bourbon (good bourbon, anyway) takes four years to age, they’ll be opening their first barrel later this year.
I say that they’ve only recently opened. That’s not quite true, as was intimated by the t-shirts the staff were wearing. They read:
Made by Ghosts.
The history of the distillery goes all the way back to 1833, the area that is now Boone County, Kentucky was settled by pioneers. A colorful lot of pioneers, to be sure – one of these fascinating individuals, who indeed has a bottle of spirits named after him at the modern distillery, had a pet bear which evidently went on a bit of an adventure one day. Around this same time, William and John Snyder bought some land for a flour mill, adding a distillery onto it as an afterthought.
The distillery very quickly became more profitable than the flour mill (surprise, surprise!). By 1880, it was the biggest distillery in Kentucky. Everything was going great for the distillers until the railroads went through and riverboats stopped coming through Boone County. After that, it was a slow decline, until the distillery closed its doors in 1910. The Distillery remained closed until 2015, when it was decided that it was high time to bring it back.
When the distillery was reopened, the legacies of these early pioneers to the area were kept alive through the names of the spirits produced and some of the traditions kept. They’ve even dubbed their still “The Bear” after that bear that took an afternoon jaunt about town. As such, they like to say that the spirits – or ghosts – of the people who came before are helping them along with the process of making great bourbon.
All this is explained on the short but thorough tour of the distillery. It is both short and thorough because this is a two-building operation – there’s the distilling building, which is just one large room, and the rackhouse, where the barrels of spirits live while they’re maturing into bourbon.
My second-favorite part of this tour was how up-close and personal we got with the fermentation process. In explaining how whiskey is made, Anthony, our guide, opened up the vats where fermentation was taking place. We could immediately smell the difference between the mixture that had just been put into the vat and the mixture that had already been fermenting for a few days. Anthony even let us dip our fingers into each vat and taste the difference between the two. That’s something I’d never been allowed to do on a distillery tour before.
My absolute favorite part of the tour, if I’m being honest, was the tasting that came afterwards. Since reopening in 2015, Boone County Distilling Co. has been working hard to produce tasty things for you to drink. Although their first barrel of bourbon is still aging, they have small-batch bourbons for you to try. There’s also a decent gin, which – we have found – pairs very nicely with lime-flavored soda water. My personal favorite, though, was the bourbon cream. That, I found, pairs nicely with just about everything.
Visiting Boone County Distilling Co.:
Getting there: Hit up your designated driver! The address is: 10601 Toebben Dr, Independence, KY 41051.
Admission: There are two options for tours at the Boone County Distilling Co.:
- Mini Tour: The mini tour is a tasting of the products they have on offer. This costs $4.75.
- Grain to Glass Experience: This is the full tour of the place, including a tasting at the end. It’ll set you back $7.55 per person.
- Tuesday through Saturday: 10AM to 5:30PM
- Sunday: 11AM to 5PM
- Monday: Closed, because no one likes Mondays.
- Tours are offered: 10:30AM, 12 noon, 1:30PM, 3PM, and 4:15PM
Website: You can visit the Boone County Distilling Co. website here.
Good to know:
- Walk-ins are always welcome – in fact, we walked in and got right on a tour! However, if you want to be sure of reserving your spot, you can always book a tour through their website.
- The Boone County Distilling Co. is an official stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour – be sure to pick up your Craft Trail passport and get it stamped when you stop in!
- This tour was great fun and the bourbon is amazing, but it was also the cheapest stop we made on our bourbon tour. If you’re on a budget, this is the place to try some bourbon!