Here's a tip...if you have your own 101 list and would like to motivate yourself to do the touristy things around your hometown that you've listed, invite out-of-town friends to come stay with you. Creating an itinerary loaded with activities from your 101 list is a win-win all the way around. Shana did it when I visited her in NYC and I returned the favor when she and Hutch were bound for the Bluegrass State.
Although I only knew about Picnic on the Porch through Woodford Reserve's website (and the information there was minimal...listing only days and times), in my head we would be treated to an al fresco dining experience, where we would sip mimosas and graze on Kentucky hot browns while breathing in the wafting aroma of sour mash cooking down the hill. The crisp table linens would be white, the waiters decked in tails (or, at the very least, bowties), and people would see a group of finely spirited ladies enjoying a luncheon near the grass and think I want to dine with THEM. I contemplated wearing my Derby hat because there's nothing worse than being under-dressed for this type of southern meal.
Fortunately, I settled for jeans. Because Picnic on the Porch involved Ale-8-1 (our very own Kentucky brand of ginger ale...not for the weak of heart. Literally. The amount of caffeine in each one would put your dark roast coffee to shame) and whoopie pies.
Although it is not quite the grand dining experience that I had envisioned, our grilled veggie sandwiches (and the PB&J that Shana ordered to satisfy her craving) were actually delicious. And, really, can you ever go wrong with a red velvet whoopie pie? I think not. To be quite honest, it was more enjoyable than if we had been served mimosas in crystal flutes and steaming plates of country ham by men in bowties.
Unless you are absolutely time-crunched, staying for a tour of the distillery is almost essential. With the exception of July/August during a drought and December-February of any winter, the grass is golf-course-green and always well manicured around Woodford Reserve's grounds. And the process of cooking sour mash to create Kentucky bourbon is complex and time consuming. I usually follow along for the first 4 or 5 steps, but by the time it reaches its final stages, I've lost track of which drum it's in, where it's coming from, and where it's headed next. It's a miracle of chemistry. It used to hold true that only bourbon could come from Kentucky. Everything outside of our state lines was whiskey. However, our tour guide told us that some distillers are using our process, thus creating bourbon. Although...a large part of bourbon is the use of water that flows over our naturally occurring limestone rock and you can't find that just anywhere. It's along the same lines as New York City water, I would think.
Since I can't remember all the steps of distilling bourbon, please just enjoy the photos of the tour and make a mental note to stop in should you find yourself in the rolling hills of my home state.
Barrels of bourbon roll along to their next destination.
Hutch can drink bourbon like a man. Truly, if you ever decide to leave Sacramento, there is always a home for you in the Bourbon State, darling.
The multiple stages of making liquid awesome.
My Kentucky fillies-in-training.
Cathy. And prostate cancer, of course.
Most of our distilleries in Kentucky are not only open to the public, but included on The Bourbon Trail, which you don't have to do in order but are mapped for convenience when traveling to each. Maker's Mark is pretty much in the middle of nowhere while Woodford Reserve is perfectly situated between Lexington and our capital, Frankfort. The Bourbon Trail is not a day trip. But it could make for a lovely and...uh...intoxicating way to spend the weekend!