Wild Turkey Distillery • Tyrone, KY
Distillery Tours- Monday – Saturday • 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, on the hour and
Sunday (March through November) • 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, on the hour. General admission tickets are $5. There is no charge for military personnel with ID.
What makes Wild Turkey Distillery different from other distilleries?
- Their master distiller has been there since 1954. That’s 59 years!
- They use one of the heaviest chars on their bourbon barrels – #4.
- The bourbon is barreled at a lower proof so that they add less water at time of bottling. They say this helps retain the flavor.
A Brief History
In 1869, the Ripy brothers opened their distillery on the banks of the Kentucky River. They ran the distillery until they were bought out by the Gould Brothers in 1952 (with a brief pause for Prohibition). There were a couple of other buyouts. In 2009, the Campari Group bought the distillery. Today they make Wild Turkey in addition to bottling other brands such as SKYY vodka and Cabo Wabo tequila.
From the beginning of the tour, it is obvious that Wild Turkey is a larger operation than Four Roses. We took a small bus from the gift shop to the newly opened distillery. There we watched a video about the distillery, it’s history, and the process. Then we walked through the cookers and fermentation room. They were in full swing there. Next we went to the warehouses, where we learned about their barreling and storage processes. We also learned about a warehouse fire in 2000, where thousands of gallons of bourbon spilled into the Kentucky River, killing lots of fish and resulting shut down of water to Lawrenceburg. We enjoyed the tour but I felt like there was some missing intimacy. Maybe it was lost in the industrialized process.
At the end of the tour, you get to try three bourbons of your choice (you get to select from 6 varieties). Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Wild Turkey bourbon. It is too spicy for me. I prefer smoother, sweeter bourbons. But my husband drinks it, sometimes straight out of the bottle. He says it makes him want to fight… no fights have actually occurred 🙂
Other posts in the series:
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Four Roses Distillery
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Wild Turkey Distillery
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Woodford Reserve
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Jim Beam
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Town Branch
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Heaven Hill
Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Maker’s Mark