Wilderness Trail Distillery - Wilderness Trail Joins the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

They say the third time is a charm and for Wilderness Trail Distillery that phrase couldn’t ring any truer. Wilderness Trail Distillery was Co-Founded by Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist in historic Danville, Kentucky. They started their first distillation run back in 2013 on their 180 gallon pot still with a hand hammered copper whiskey helmet that was custom made by Vendome Copper & Brass Works. That copper still operates on electricity and basically acts like a huge double boiler. As Baker told me the first time I visited the distillery that still is the only one like it in the world. They have so much control over it Baker said you could safely melt chocolate in there.

Wilderness Trail Distillery - Shane Baker and Patrick Heist to Expand Distillery for a Third Time
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Wilderness Trail Distillery Co-Founders by Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist.

Back in 2013 that still and the entire operation was producing about two barrels of bourbon a day. The custom designed still and column system they had at the time could produce bourbon whiskey, vodka or rum. Before you knew it, they had outgrown their original downtown location and moved to the outskirts of town for their second build out in 2016. Once the building was enclosed they moved all their equipment and with their expanded footprint they added a new 18″ diameter, 36′ tall copper column still and a 500 gallon doubler. Once operational they increased capacity by 500% and could produce 12 barrels a day. As they got the kinks worked out they soon added another shift and doubled production to 24 barrels per day.

Pretty much before the patina set in on the new column they had a design in mind for build out number three with the idea to go big. The newest column still (on the right above) measures 36″ in diameter and 36′ tall. Fully operational the distillery can now produce 150 barrels of Kentucky Bourbon per day. This time around the expansion put them into a new league which leads us to the latest announcement which moves them up in the Kentucky Distillers’ Association tourism ranks from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, of which Wilderness Trail was one of the first members, on to the adults table as the official 18th member of the world famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

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To help put this accomplishment in perspective take a look at the full list of Kentucky Bourbon Trail members listed below. These are the top tier bourbon whiskey makers in the world with historic names like Beam, Samuels and Brown. Needless to say, they’ve made a major Thanksgiving Day move from the kids table to the adults table. Pretty amazing for a company that as recently as seven years ago never made a drop of distilled spirits.

“We are very excited to be joining the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® after years on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® for both our growth as well as the impact to our community,” said Baker.

When it comes to bourbon tourism Shane says, “We excel in offering a unique experience and educational perspective of the Bourbon-making process by focusing on the science in making Bourbon while maintaining a traditional Bourbon distillery process across our 163-acre campus in historic Danville, the birthplace of Kentucky.”

The science side of Wilderness Trail Distillery comes from their sister and original company Ferm Solutions a leading research, product development, engineering and technical service provider to the ethanol and distilled spirits industries. It focuses on all aspects of process optimization, products and technical services that ensure maximum production and yield to hundreds of distilleries and ethanol plants around the world.

The 1st Craft Spirits Distillery to Graduate to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

When you visit be sure to check out Walker Woodfill. He’s kinetically powered by the high and low wines that come off the still. Watch the video to see him in action.

“This is an exciting day for Wilderness Trail, the Danville community and all our Kentucky Bourbon Trail partners,” Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory said. “Wilderness Trail has established itself as a can’t-miss stop that fully delves into the art and science of our signature spirit. On behalf of our members, we congratulate Wilderness Trail on their success and proudly welcome them to the legendary Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour as its 18th member, the most participating distilleries since the Kentucky Distillers’ Association founded the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1999.”

Wilderness Trail Distillery is a Part of the Local Community

“Wilderness Trail Distillery has been an incredible asset to Boyle County,” said Jennifer Kirchner, Executive Director of Destination Danville. “In addition to their significant contributions to our local economy in agriculture, industry, and technology, they have helped us to build a robust tourism footprint. If you love Bourbon and you love Kentucky, then you will love Danville.”

Coupled with Danville’s small-town charm and history, Wilderness Trail will be a welcome addition that highlights the spectrum of the state’s different distillery sizes and approaches, said Adam Johnson, Senior Director of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail program.

“Even in a quintessential ‘Main Street, America’ town, Wilderness Trail shows you can have a world-class attraction with fantastic hospitality,” said Johnson, who is a graduate of Centre College in Danville and has lived in Danville for more than 20 years.

Plan a Visit to Wilderness Trail Distillery

Wilderness Trail currently produces a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel Bottled in Bond, a Small Batch Bottled in Bond Bourbon, and a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, as well as Harvest Rum (aged in used bourbon barrels) and Blue Heron Vodka.

The distillery is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday. The visitor experience includes a 45-minute walking tour and an educational tasting seminar in the tasting room.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Members

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