Woodford Reserve celebrates 200th anniversary - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Woodford Reserve celebrates 200th anniversary

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The story of distilling in Woodford County began in 1797 when Elijah Pepper set up a distillery in the county seat of Versailles. In 1812 he moved his operation to a location on the Grassy Springs Branch of Glenn's Creek where the Woodford Reserve Distillery now stands. Pepper's son, Oscar, built the current distillery building in 1838 and it was there the process of crafting bourbon was perfected. The distillery was purchased by Labrot and Graham in the late 1800s and retained that name until 2004 when it was renamed The Woodford Reserve Distillery.

Today the distillery is much like it was in the 1800's, right down to the cypress-wood fermenters and copper pot stills. The same Five Sources of Bourbon Flavor used two centuries ago are still used to craft the award winning taste of Woodford Reserve Distillers Select.

As 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of fine whiskey distilling on the historic site, we're celebrating this milestone with exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the birthplace of bourbon including many historical relics left on the property. The Woodford Reserve Distillery will be offering specialty tours for one week only as well as a Bourbon Feast to toast the occasion. More information about these events are below.

Public Distillery Tours:

August 27-August 30th from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM each day

The year 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of fine whiskey distilling on our historic site, here at what is currently called the Woodford Reserve Distillery. But long before we began making our premium small batch Distiller's Select bourbon here, a cast of historical figures developed and owned the property, all the while laying the foundation for and perfecting the methods of making bourbon.

As part of the tour, view the 200 year-old Pepper House, an original Spring House, the original distillery site and so much more. This intense two-hour hike will also include a tour of the present day distillery, a variety of unique whiskey tastings and a gourmet 1812 era lunch provided by Chef in Residence, Ouita Michel and her culinary team.

This history hike is being offered Monday, August 27th - Thursday, August 30th from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM each day. The cost is $125 per person and you must be 21 or older to attend. Reservations are required and must be made by calling 859-879-1934. This hike will either be delayed or postponed if inclement weather occurs.

The tour will include a lot of walking so please be prepared by wearing long pants and sturdy shoes with closed toes and if you have allergies please bring any allergy medications in case insects are encountered along the hike.

Woodford Reserve 200 year Anniversary and Bourbon Feast

August 25th, 6:00- 10:00 PM

Come celebrate the Woodford Reserve Distillery's 200th Anniversary with an 1812 inspired evening. Chef-in-residence Ouita Michel and her culinary team are pulling out all the stops to create a one-of-a kind bourbon feast featuring dishes prepared from our surrounding farms. Before dinner, enjoy Woodford Reserve cocktails with beautifully paired hors d'oeuvres, a chilled seafood cocktail bar and a display of Kentucky's best local cheeses. Tour the distillery to learn about our history, listen to Bluegrass music and taste whiskey from the first barrel made at the Woodford Reserve Distillery. During dinner, savor the very best that the Bluegrass has to offer:

· Carved rack of lamb

· Woodford Reserve smoked prime rib

· Stonecross pork roast basted in Woodford Reserve

· Bourbon BBQ Sauce

· Bourbon marinated quail stuffed with fresh figs

· Silver Queen corn pudding

· Heirloom tomato salad with fresh basil

· Local lettuces with Woodford Vinaigrette

· Summer pickled okra and cucumber

· Summer green beans with Stonecross farm bacon

· Roasted baby summer squash

· Happy Jack's local potatoes with butter and chive

· Corn pones

· Butter biscuits with tomato jam or apple butter

· Chocolate bread pudding with Woodford sauce

· Baby Kentucky mud cakes

· Pecan pie

· Sour cream apple crumb pie

We are recreating the dishes that have made Woodford County a bastion of Kentucky hospitality, some served right here at the Distillery for over 200 years. Dinner will be paired with red and white wines and Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

$150 per person

Woodford Reserve Distillery

7855 McCracken Pike

Versailles, KY 40383-9781

(859) 879-1812

For more information, click here.

Pan Roasted Rabbit in Woodford Reserve

Serves 2


1 rabbit

2-3 strips bacon

½ cup chicken stock or rabbit stock

½ onion sliced

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

¼ cup Woodford Reserve

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Bone the saddle or loin of the rabbit and wrap in the bacon. If this feels too tricky, just cut the rabbit up into loin and leg and cut the bacon up to put in the pan-don't worry about wrapping the meat.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet, with a little extra bacon fat and brown the rabbit on all sides-add the onion and cook until soft. Keep the heat moderate, not high.

3. Add the Woodford and flame, add the chicken stock - and finish the dish in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

4. Remove to a cutting board and let the rabbit rest- then slice and serve on top of the grits with the pickled fruit on the side

Extra Creamy Cheese Grits

Serves 4


1 cup Weisenberger stone ground white grits

2 cups water

2 cups milk

2 tsp salt-or more to taste

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese


Bring water, salt and milk to a hard boil in a heavy 2 to 4 quart pot with a lid.

Add grits, reduce heat and stir until they come back to a simmer and the starch begins to develop.

Cover the grits and lower the heat as low as possible. At the Inn we let the grits just sit over our pilot light for about an hour and a half-as Lisa says "letting them swell." If you don't have this kind of time, they should cook over very low heat for about 30-40 minutes. Check them occasionally to make sure they don't scorch on the bottom, but don't stir too frequently.

Add the cheese, cayenne and taste for salt.

For an extra rich result, you can substitute heavy cream for milk in the recipe.

Sally Lunn Bread

from Mabel Thompson


1 cup milk

1 package dry yeast

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

4 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt


Heat milk until a film forms. Skim. Cool until lukewarm, then sprinkle in the yeast to dissolve.

Meanwhile, work the butter until soft, then add the sugar gradually, and continue working until creamy. Beat the eggs in very hard.

Sift the flour and salt together. Beat in the flour and the milk mixture alternately.

Cover dough with a tea towel and set in a warm place until it doubles in size. Beat very hard and pour into a greased tube or bundt pan. Let rise again until double in size, then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Run knife around the center and outer edges of the bread, then turn out onto a plate or rack to cool.

Cut in slices to serve.

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