Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Dueling Grounds Distillery
208 Harding Rd
Franklin, KY 42134
Tour / Review
Update July 2023
Please enjoy our Dueling Grounds Distillery Tour Review!
Time For Another Visit To Dueling Grounds Distillery!
We first visited Dueling Grounds Distillery back in May of 2019, during the early days of BourbonObsessed.com. So, it was definitely time to pay them another visit. Read on to learn all about it!
Why Dueling Grounds?
Dueling Grounds Distillery takes its unique name from ages old local history. In the early 1800’s, Linkumpinch Farm, near present day Franklin, KY, served as the literal dueling ground. In a 2019 interview with the Murray Ledger & Times, Dueling Grounds owner, Marc Dottore, related that “more than 40 duels were said to have been fought at the Linkumpinch Farm in Simpson County”. The Dueling Grounds of today replaces pistols with samples from the distillery’s line up of bourbons and other spirits.
Whether heading north or south on I-65, the distillery is a quick 3 mile detour just west of the Interstate in Franklin, KY. Dueling Grounds Distillery, offers tours on the hour, Monday through Saturday. Visitors get to view the production area and sample their line of bourbons and various other spirits made on site.
A newer addition to Dueling Grounds Distillery is the Museum Tour. This experience takes place at the distillery’s satellite tasting room in the historic Sanford Duncan Stagecoach Inn & Linkumpinch Dueling Grounds. The tasting room is located just 4 miles from the distillery and only 1 mile off of I-65, exit 2, at 5083 Nashville Rd in Franklin, KY. According to its website, visitors to the museum tour take a step back in time, as the Inn served as a stagecoach stop along the Nashville to Louisville Pike on the grounds of the Linkumpinch Farm. Bourbon tasting and tales of duels are the focus of this experience. Currently the Museum Tour is offered Thursday-Saturday on the hour. Reservations for either tour can be made online at www.duelinggroundsdistillery.com.
Times They Are A Changing
Like most craft distilleries, Dueling Grounds Distillery is a relatively small operation. Our original visit was over 4 years ago, in May 2019. We were amazed to learn on this visit just how much has changed. The distillery continues to occupy one large “L” shaped area on the back side of the gift shop/tasting room and bar. Wall signage also remains intact over the equipment helping to detail the distilling process.
Newest for Dueling Grounds however is its increased distilling capacity. Master Distiller Steve Whitledge kindly invited us back into the distillery and filled us in on their most recent improvements. A while back, the distillery went from an electric to a steam powered energy source with the purchase of a new boiler. The installation of grain silos followed, relieving the distillery’s continual need for 50lb sacks of grain. These upgrades gave the distillery the ability to replace their 250 gallon mash cooker with a whopping 800 gallon cooker. To continue the numbers game, this increase in cooking capacity will lead to an increase in yearly barrel production from 50 barrels to 200 barrels.
The Still Is Still The Same
The still, however, was just as we remembered it. It’s made by Affordable Distillery Equipment and is a 200 gallon hybrid still with a 4 plate column. Steve explained that the bourbon continues to be double distilled. First as low wine, then as high wine or new make. While the new make comes off the still around 150 proof, its entry into the barrel is at 115 proof.
Dueling Grounds’ Barrel Aging Takes Place Off-Site
No rickhouse to see here; barrel aging, which currently is 4 years for the Linkumpinch Kentucky Straight Bourbon, takes place off-site, elsewhere in Kentucky. The barrels are regularly checked for their progress and are ultimately brought back to Dueling Grounds Distillery for bottling. The “bottling line” (which is all done by hand) has a 4 bottle capacity bottle filler. Once the bottles are filled, labels are applied and corks inserted.
These Upgrades Must Be Expensive!
So how does a relatively small operation like Dueling Grounds Distillery afford such improvements? Steve disclosed that the company had 25 barrels to sell on the wholesale market this year. This, along with an agreement made to contract distill 100 barrels over a 12 month period, has helped to bankroll these impressive improvements.
Dueling Grounds Distillery Has A Pizza Kitchen And Other Tasting Room Accoutrements
The distillery proper has not been the only area to see improvement. We headed back to the gift shop and bar, where now on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Dueling Grounds pizza kitchen is open for business. Booths were also added so folks could comfortably sit and enjoy their meals. The outdoor patio saw several improvements as well. The rock patio flooring was replaced with a smoother, more stable, cement surface. Also, colorful sun-blocking tarps were added as a roof over the picnic tables.
Let’s Sample Some Dueling Grounds Bourbon!
Having covered Dueling Grounds Distillery’s notable changes, it was time to revisit their bourbon. Steve poured a taste each of their 2 flagship labels, the 4 year Linkumpinch Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon and the 4 year Linkumpinch Single Barrel Cask Proof Bourbon. Our last visit in 2019 had found just 2 year old Linkumpinch Bourbon ready to be released. The passage of time has definitely created a more mature spirit.
But Wait, There’s More
In addition to the bourbons, the distillery also produces a Barrel Aged American Gin along with various other spirits which can all be enjoyed at this full service bar. In fact, every Sunday from 2-6pm, their mixologist creates 4 unique artisanal cocktails and one mocktail for guests to enjoy along side their pizza and mini chocolate bourbon pecan pies.
Time To Move On
As usual, the morning had gotten away from us and it was time to head out. We thanked Steve for letting us crash his morning distilling duties and for sharing his wealth of information. A few bottle purchases later, we were on our way.
Dueling Grounds Distillery Is A Friendly Place
Dueling Grounds Distillery is a friendly, comfortable spot to learn about bourbon, or just belly up to the bar for a pour and perhaps a slice. It is a definite must do on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
We hope you have enjoyed our Dueling Grounds Distillery Tour Review! If you would like to read about another Southwestern Kentucky Craft Distillery, check out our Casey Jones Distillery Visit & Tour Review!
Date of original Dueling Grounds Distillery visit: May 2019. Updates: July 2019, December 2022, April 2023, July 2023
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