A good news for those who like Bourbon is that The Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, where it is said “was born” that American Whiskey, will re-open its doors next September 19 again.
A better one is that the opening will benefit tourism.
The distillery is the same one opened in 1887 by Colonel Edmund Hayes Taylor (of Old Taylor fame), who wanted to found a “destination distillery,” featuring a European-style castle, springhouse and sunken garden in a 113-acre property. That distillery became known as “the birthplace of Bourbon tourism,” as Castle & Key said in a statement published by Lonely Planet.
Bourbon whiskey is a type of American whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn.
According to historians the name derives from the French Bourbon dynasty, although the precise inspiration for the whiskey’s name is unsettled; contenders include Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Bourbon County in Kentucky.
In Kentucky Colonel Taylor’s initial distillery, though, fell into disrepair in the following years, and it was essentially in ruins when the current owners, Will Arvin and Wes Murry, decided to restore it. Lonely Planet added that what came out of the restoration process is an “immersive distillery experience,” as the founders put it.
The new Castle & Key will offer testing tours and curated experiences and of course sell spirits that will be “thoughtfully made,” by Marianne Eaves, Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller since Prohibition times.
Castle & Key Release Gin and Restoration Release Vodka are already on sale, while rye and bourbon are aging until ready. All spirits are made from locally-sourced, American ingredients.
For its part, the New York Times published about the restoration of the distillery that while restoring the 1887-vintage Old Taylor Distillery Arvin and Murry, partners in the business, discovered abandoned train tracks on the property and a passenger depot once used by visitors arriving to tour the bourbon works.
When it reopens in the fall, after a 40-year hiatus, as Castle & Key Distillery, the gin and bourbon brand will use the restored Taylorton Station as a museum, tasting room and the gateway to distillery tours.
“It was a little like Pompeii” said Mr. Arvin to the Times.
“The magic of the place is that Col. Taylor was the visionary who figured out bourbon tourism was a cool thing.” The New York newspaper added that now, it’s not just bourbon, but gin, rye and even limoncello leading a new wave of spirits-driven travel.
“As with food, wine and beer, traveling to the source for booze has exploded alongside the boom in craft distilleries, up 26 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the American Craft Spirits Association. It currently identifies 1,600 craft distilleries, defined as those producing less than roughly 315,000 cases annually.
Small distilleries commonly open tasting rooms and offer tours as a way of marketing on a meager budget. Those start-ups are reimagining the ways they engage visitors, offering spirits festivals, mixology classes, concerts and other activities. Meanwhile, major brands are investing heavily in entertaining visitors with destination architecture, blending workshops and interactive exhibits, the New York Times wrote.
Like wineries before them, some distilleries are adding inns. In Greenport, N.Y., both the Matchbook Distilling Company and the affiliated Lin Beach House, with five rooms, a cocktail bar and tasting room, recently opened.
Some hotels are adding distilleries. Copal Tree Lodge in southern Belize opened Copal Tree Distillery, powered by biomass and using resort-grown sugar cane, last year. This summer the resort, home to a 3,000-acre organic farm, plans to add rum-spicing and cocktail-making classes to its culinary lineup.
The Distillery in London, housing a working distillery, restaurant and the Ginstitute gin-making classes, added three guest rooms in late 2016.