Wilderness Trail Distillery Tour Review

Nestled in the heart of Kentucky, Wilderness Trail Distillery stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of bourbon craftsmanship. Founded on a blend of scientific precision and unwavering respect for tradition, the distillery has carved a unique niche for itself, captivating bourbon enthusiasts with its meticulously crafted spirits. Learn more in our Wilderness Trail Distillery Tour review!
Wilderness Trail Distillery
4095 Lebanon Rd
Danville, Kentucky 40422
Visit Date May 2019
Tour / Review

Please enjoy our Wilderness Trail Distillery Tour Review! (Note that this review is based on our visit and tour in May 2019. While the history of the distillery remains the same, much has changed at Wilderness Trail Distillery since then! Stay tuned for our updated write-up!)

Wilderness Trail Distillery: A Unique Distillery in Kentucky

Wilderness Trail Distillery: A Bourbon Journey Through Science and Tradition

A Legacy Rooted in Science

Nestled amidst the rolling hills and verdant landscapes of Kentucky, Wilderness Trail Distillery stands as a testament to the spirit of innovation and the enduring legacy of bourbon craftsmanship. Founded in 2012, this relatively new distillery has carved a unique niche for itself in the heart of the Bluegrass State, captivating bourbon enthusiasts with its blend of scientific precision and unwavering respect for traditional distilling methods.

From Research to Revelation: The Ferm Solutions Legacy

The story of Wilderness Trail Distillery begins not with the familiar clanging of copper stills or the tantalizing aroma of aging bourbon, but rather in the realm of science and research. The distillery’s roots can be traced to Ferm Solutions, a company founded in 2006 by Shane Baker and Pat Heist, two individuals with deep expertise in fermentation science. For almost a decade, Ferm Solutions provided yeast and consulting services to some of the world’s most renowned distilleries, helping them refine their processes and elevate their spirits to new heights.

Baker and Heist’s passion for bourbon extended beyond their professional endeavors. They longed to create their own bourbon, one that would embody their scientific knowledge and reflect their unwavering respect for time-honored traditions. In 2012, their dream materialized with the establishment of Wilderness Trail Distillery.

The Ferm Solutions lab at the Wilderness Trail Distillery
The Ferm Solutions lab at the Wilderness Trail Distillery
Frootbat - Making hard to find liquor easy to buy

A Dream Materialized: Wilderness Trail Distillery Takes Root

Frootbat - Making hard to find liquor easy to buy
An Idyllic Setting: Wilderness Trail Distillery in Danville, Kentucky

The distillery’s idyllic location in Danville, Kentucky, provides a picturesque backdrop for its operations. Sprawling across 168 acres, the property seamlessly blends modern facilities with the natural beauty of Kentucky’s countryside. A new visitor center, rickhouses, and event spaces complement the distillery, creating a welcoming destination for bourbon aficionados and casual visitors alike.

Scenic view from the fermentation area
The 20,000 gallon fermenters at Wilderness Trail Distillery have a phenomenal view!
Embarking on a Bourbon Journey: The Distillery Tour

Stepping onto the grounds of Wilderness Trail Distillery is akin to embarking on a journey through the heart of bourbon making. The air is permeated with the sweet, oaky aroma that lingers from the aging barrels, a prelude to the sensory delights that await. The distillery’s tour guides, well-versed in the art and science of bourbon production, serve as knowledgeable companions, leading visitors through the labyrinth of copper stills, fermentation tanks, and rickhouses.

Unveiling the Secrets: Mashing and Fermentation

The tour begins with a captivating glimpse into the Ferm Solutions lab, where the seeds of Wilderness Trail’s success were sown. Visitors witness firsthand the meticulous research and development that underpins the distillery’s meticulously crafted spirits.

Next, the journey unfolds in the realm of mashing and fermentation. The guide unveils the secrets of Wilderness Trail’s unique processes, emphasizing the delicate balance between science and tradition. Visitors learn about the carefully selected grains, the precise temperature control, and the intricate dance of yeast strains that transform simple ingredients into the foundation of exceptional bourbon.

A Distinctive Approach: Embracing the Sweet Mash Process

One of the hallmarks of Wilderness Trail Distillery’s bourbon production is its unwavering commitment to the sweet mash process. Unlike many distilleries that employ a sour mash method, Wilderness Trail eschews the use of backset, opting instead for a cleaner, more controlled fermentation. This approach results in bourbons with a softer mouthfeel and a more pronounced sweetness, a testament to the distillery’s dedication to crafting unique and flavorful spirits.

Original 250 gallon hybrid pot still at Wilderness Trail Distillery.
The original 250 gallon hybrid pot still
The Art of Distillation: Coaxing the Essence of Bourbon

As the tour progresses, the stills become the focal point. The guide expertly explains the distillation process, revealing how Wilderness Trail’s craftsmen coax the essence of bourbon from the fermented mash. The towering copper stills, gleaming under the warm glow of industrial lights, exude an aura of tradition and expertise.

A Symphony of Flavors: A Tasting of Wilderness Trail’s Spirits

The tour culminates in the visitor center, where anticipation builds as visitors prepare to sample the fruits of Wilderness Trail’s labor. The guide presents an array of the distillery’s spirits, each a testament to their unwavering commitment to quality and innovation.

From the Harvest Rum, with its rich molasses notes and subtle spice, to the Blue Heron Vodka, renowned for its silky smoothness and delicate sweetness, each spirit showcases Wilderness Trail’s mastery of crafting exceptional beverages.

The crowning jewels of the tasting are the distillery’s Kentucky Straight single barrel bottled in bond bourbons. (Now both are small batch bottled in bond bourbons) One, with a rye mashbill, delivers a bold, spicy character, while the other, with a wheated mashbill, offers a softer, more approachable profile. Also, not to be overlooked is Wilderness Trail’s rye whiskey!

Wilderness Trail Bottled In Bond Bourbons
Wilderness Trail Bottled In Bond Bourbons
A Legacy Enduring: Wilderness Trail Distillery, A Beacon of Innovation

As visitors savor the nuances of each spirit, they gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and dedication that permeate every aspect of Wilderness Trail Distillery’s operations.

The tour concludes with a sense of fulfillment, as visitors depart with a newfound appreciation for the complex craft of bourbon making and the unwavering passion that drives Wilderness Trail Distillery. The distillery stands as a beacon of innovation amidst a landscape steeped in tradition, a testament to the enduring spirit of Kentucky bourbon.

Conclusion: Wilderness Trail Distillery Tour Review

With its commitment to scientific precision, unwavering respect for tradition, and dedication to crafting exceptional spirits, Wilderness Trail Distillery has firmly established itself as a must-visit destination for bourbon enthusiasts seeking an immersive and enlightening journey into the world of Kentucky’s signature spirit.

We hope you have enjoyed our Wilderness Trail Distillery Tour review! Stay tuned for our updated write up!

Initial visit date: May 2019. Text revision: November 2023

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