A Tour of The Bourbon Trail with The 51%

A Tour of The Bourbon Trail with The 51

I was invited to explore some of the Bourbon Trail on the “Discover the Source – Barrels and Bourbon Tour” sponsored by The 51% and New Riff Distillery.

Who or What is The 51%?

“The 51% – Bourbon’s Better Half. A Social Drinking Club bringing bourbon and badass women together. Our mission is discovering new bourbons, new faces and new places. Our aim is that at every tasting, tour and gathering, we learn a little, drink a little and laugh a lot. Consider our calling card to be – “And a good time was had by all…”

And why The 51%? Women are 51% of the U.S. population; corn must be 51% of a bourbon’s mash bill. It’s a natural pairing whose time has come.”

Founding Women – Maggie Brennan, Nicole Gunderman, Cheryl Besl (pictured below) & Teri Heist

Bourbon Tour bus

I invited my friend Stephanie from A Little Moore to join me on the tour because she also has an appreciation for bourbon.

New Rill Distillery in Newport
Our tour started at New Riff Distillery located in Newport, Kentucky. We were greeted with some pastries and some bourbon…. to add to our coffee of course. Our transportation that day was a chartered bus which made it so that everyone could just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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1st Stop Willett Distillery located at 1869 Loretto Rd, Bardstown, KY.

Willett Distillery 14

We were given a tour of the 5th generation distilling facility, enjoyed a tasting, and a boxed lunch during our visit.

History of Willett Distillery

The boutique Distillery was founded in 1936 and the tour begins by sharing the history of the distillery and takes you through the stages of the bourbon making process.

Willett Distillery

Willett Distillery 2

The aging process can last anywhere from 4-18 years. One of my favorite tastings that I tried that day was the Pure Kentucky bourbon.

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Willett Distillery 5

At the end of the tour, guests can purchase some of their favorite bourbons from the tasting in the gift shop.

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I took a few moments to walk around the beautiful grounds before we loaded back on the bus. The distillery sits on 120 acres and everything is ground on site.

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Willett Distillery 3

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Willett Distillery 8


Our lunch was provided by Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts. I selected the whole grain grilled chicken club with mixed greens, double smoked bacon, tomato and herb mayo on toasted focaccia.

bourbon tour lunch 2

2nd Stop- Independent Stave Company (Kentucky Cooperage Tour) located at 712 E Main St, Lebanon, KY. Since 1912, this company has been making oak staves and barrels for bourbon. The tour takes you through the barrel making process from start to finish. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures during the tour, but it is fascinating to watch.

Independent Stave Company 2

Watching the charring of the barrel was really interesting and probably my favorite stage that we observed. I have a new appreciation for bourbon barrels after witnessing the craftsmanship involved in each barrel.

Independent Stave Company 3

We learned that the 53 gallon barrels are made of American white oak wood selected from 80-100 year old trees. The barrels weigh about 110 lb. empty and around 500 lb. filled.

Independent Stave Company

You need to wear close toed shoes and the tour last 30-45 minutes. Tours are Monday-Friday 9:30am and 1pm. Call prior to your tour to make sure that there have not been any changes. (270) 692-4674

3rd Stop – Limestone Branch Distillery located at 1280 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Lebanon, KY.

Limestone Branch Distillery

The tour and pour from Steven was both fun and informative.

Limestone Branch Distillery 4

He should have his own reality show because he is such a great storyteller and an interesting character. His descriptions of each sugar*shine is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Make sure that you try the jalepeno one if you like a little heat.

Limestone Branch Distillery 2

This is a 7th generation distillery and the only Beam family distillery left in the world. Make sure that you take a few moments to look at the memorabilia in the cases before you leave.Worth the stop.

Tours begin at the top of every hour, with the last leaving at 5pm:
Mon-Sat 10am – 5pm
Sun 1pm-5pm
Evening and private tours available upon request.

You can connect with New Riff Distillery on facebook, twitter, and instagram.
There are two upcoming events with The 51%

About to Go Crazy – August 3,2016 at 7pm at The Crazy Fox Saloon located at 901 Washington Ave., Newport, KY.

“Let’s get over hump day together at a bar of cool repute. A little drinking, a little talking.  Pay as you drink and drink as much as your heart desires.  Hope to see you there!”

Keeneland Bus Trip

“Join New Riff’s own, John Graff, for a Bourbon-infused Day at the Races! The trip includes your round trip bus ride to Lexington, a tour of Alltech Brewery and Distillery, two drink tokens, a box luncheon and an entrance/reserved seat at Keeneland.”

October 8 9am-8pm

Purchase tickets here

$65 discount price – enter promo code: bourbonforthepeople

You can find out more about the 51% Social Drinking Club from their facebook page, twitter, and instagram.

Willett Distillery 20


Thanks again to The 51% and New Riff for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. 

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