Woodford Reserve Distillery is one of the most well-known and successful bourbon brands in the world. From its well-manicured grounds to its beautiful Visitors' Center, the distillery is a fitting reflection of its famous bottles of bourbon. Located among the rolling bluegrass hills of Woodford County, the distillery is located in the heart of horse country and is less than four miles from the home of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Bourbon and Barns is pleased to present its recent interview with Elizabeth McCall, Woodford Reserve's Master Taster and Senior Quality Control Specialist.
Bourbon & Barns: How did Woodford Reserve get its start?
Elizabeth McCall: Woodford Reserve was the dream of former Brown-Forman CEO, Owsley Brown II. He wanted to make the world's most balanced and complex bourbon on the market, one that would appeal to any palate and a home place for visitors to come and see where and how the product is made. The Woodford Reserve Distillery opened its doors in 1996 and is now one of the most visited distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and is the #1 selling bourbon over $30.
BB: How has the distillery changed over the years?
EM: The distillery has grown significantly since 1996, not just in production, but in our footprint as well. Woodford once only set one fermenter a week, now we are setting fermenters daily, and distilling spirits around the clock. We started out with four fermenters and added two more a few years ago. Our bottling line has expanded. Every drop of Woodford Reserve product is bottled on site with the exception of our 50mL bottles. Warehousing has expanded - we have four new large warehouses on the top of the hill on the property we purchased a few years ago. We are currently building more warehouses in Midway. With all this growth and expansion, Woodford Reserve has not lost its charm and has only continued to improve in quality and innovation. I am so proud to be a part of this brand and production team.
BB: How big is the distillery today?
EM: The Woodford Reserve Distillery is fairly small, we have 43 total employees (this number does not include the people who work in our Visitor's Center). We produce roughly 35 barrels per day.
BB: The Woodford Reserve Visitors Center is beautiful. What did the distillery have in mind when it designed the new visitors center? When did it open? How many people visit the distillery?
EM: We wanted to create an atmosphere that was functional yet welcoming at the same time. When uest come to Woodford Reserve, we want hem to feel comfortable, like they are at home. The views are beautiful, so the deck is a great place to grab a bite to eat and soak in your surroundings. It first opened in 1996 and was reopened with a complete makeover in 2014. In 2016, the distillery hosted 135,000 visitor during its 20th anniversary in business.
B: What products does Woodford Reserve offer?
EM: Our regular offerings are Woodford Distillers Select Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon, and Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey. We also have offerings that are released on a limited basis; The Woodford Reserve Distillery Series products are released three times a year, each is a different offering that we may never produce again. The Distillery Series can only be purchased at our distillery Visitors Center or at select retailers in the state of Kentucky. We also offer our Woodford Reserve Masters Collection. This is a once a year limited offering that comes out in November and is different every year. Our promise is to never repeat a Woodford Reserve Masters Collection. Once it's gone, it's gone, never to be produced again. Get it while you can!
BB: Woodford Reserve offers several different tours. How are they different?
EM: We offer 3 different types of tours at Woodford Reserve: a 1-hour Distillery tour, a 2-hour Corn to Cork Tour, and a 2-hour National Landmark Tour. Future visitors can visit our website www.WoodfordReserve.com for hours, tour details, pricing, and even make reservations! Hope to see you soon!