Just like the mint in a mint julep, the history of bourbon is a bit muddled. Some argue it was created by a preacher. Others say that’s folklore. Many call Colonel E.H. Taylor the father of bourbon. Regardless of its murky history, there’s no doubt that many of the country’s largest bourbon distilleries reside along the banks of the Kentucky River. One of those distilleries is the Col. Taylor’s O.F.C. Distillery. Today, that distillery is commonly known as the Buffalo Trace Distillery, a place that offers free tours and boasts more that 200,000 a year.
The River that Made Bourbon is about to Launch a Boat Tour
Regardless of its muddled history, there is one thing that we do know, the river that provides that limestone rich, acid free water to make bourbon is about to get the first distillery water cruise. Yes, that’s right, a distillery cruise. Buffalo Trace Distillery is partnering with Kentucky River Tours, a small newly founded business based in Frankfort, started by the owners of Canoe Kentucky, Nathan and Allison Depenbrock, and Clayton Embly, of Lexington Kentucky. Tours will start in the Buffalo Trace Distillery Gift Shop, and will then shuttle about a mile away to Buffalo Trace’s on-site boat dock where guests will embark, and later return from, the river tour.
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The Distillery River Tour Between Locks No. 3 and No. 4
Captain Allison Depenbrock said, “Our tour will be in Pool 3 of the Kentucky River. We will tell the history, especially Bourbon history, tour around and head back listening to Bluegrass music and answering any questions. The cost is $14.00 per ticket and a portion of the proceeds will go to a local nonprofit, Woods and Waters Land Trust a nonprofit association that protects forests and streams in the lower Kentucky River watershed.”
Following a brief safety talk, the 45-minute tour of the Kentucky River’s Pool 3 will focus on the history of the river and its impacts on the bourbon industry as a whole. Guests will see the river-side of the Distillery, Lock and Dam #4 (See Chart No. 10 above), Steamboat Bend (see Chart No. 9 above) and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the Kentucky River.
The vessel in which tours will travel is a USCG inspected 28-foot Carolina Skiff, set up as an 18-passenger tour boat. The boat’s open design is complete with a ¾ roof and open-view railing which will allow for a great view of the river.
Kentucky River Tours expects to launch its first boat by early summer following the official ribbon-cutting and christening, and plans to operate Tuesdays through Sundays, weather permitting, through December. All reservations and tour bookings for the river tour are being handled directly by Kentucky River Tours.
Goin’ Old School, “Shook Hands on a New Partnership.” (Love this!)
“March 5, 2016 was a big day for Kentucky River Tours. It is our unofficial birth date, because on this day, Buffalo Trace Distillery and Kentucky River Tours shook hands on a new partnership!”