Old Forester Distilling Co. has opened a new distillery in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. One of the oldest brands of bourbon in the US, Old Forester holds the distinction of being the first bourbon ever put in a bottle. Almost 150 years ago, whiskey was typically sold by the barrel, but a pharmaceutical sales rep named George Gavin Brown decided to seal his whiskey in a glass bottle and sign his name to it. He sold that bottled whiskey out of a shop on Louisville’s Main Street, and now, Old Forester has opened their new facility in that same building. How’s that for full circle?
It’s a $45 million, 70,000 square feet endeavor that will increase the production capacity of Old Forester by 100,000 gallons a year and allow visitors to walk through the bourbon-making process, seeing the fermentation and distillation processes before checking out the on-site cooperage. The new Old Forester Distiling Co. is part of the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which includes 10 other distilleries throughout that boozy corner of the state.
If you want to go, $16 will get you the tour and the tasting.
Fun fact about Louisville’s Main Street, aka “Whiskey Row”: After the Civil War, it was the hub of bourbon, housing 89 different whiskey distilling companies. Old Forester is the only one to operate continuously.
Another fun fact: Old Forester was named after a prominent doctor (Dr. William Forrester) in Louisville who endorsed the concept of “medicinal whiskey” sold in sealed glass bottles. That’s my kind of doctor. During Prohibition, Old Forester received one of only six federal licenses to continue making whiskey for medicinal purposes.
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An exterior shot of the new distillery in the original Brown Forman building.
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The lobby, where you'll immediately be immersed in the history of bourbon.
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Giving the barrels that beautiful char.
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Making a barrel. I've done this. It's hard.
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This is easily one of the swankiest cooperages I've ever seen.
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The barrel dump. It's a pretty crass name for such a wonderful action. It's a lovely tour, but wouldn't it be better if you could put your mouth under there?
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Setting up the tasting room. You'll get to taste the 86 proof, the 100 proof, and the Statesman.
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And here's a historical shot, I assume of the original gang in front of the original building, circa late 1800s.