So… these rankings, unless specifically mentioned, are based solely on the gift shop. Some of the distilleries mentioned below have great tours and experiences, but I’m only rating the gift shop, unless otherwise specifically mentioned. There are several listed below that have received some very bad scores… this doesn’t mean that I don’t like their products or their tour or the people, but what it does mean is that if you are just looking to allocate time to hit up a gift shop, looking for a good experience or access to bottles that they only have there, you should not go. A great example of this is Buffalo Trace… it’s my favorite distillery tour I’ve ever done, and they make my favorite whiskies, but their gift shop is a complete waste of time. If you are a distillery owner and unhappy with your gift shop score, maybe you should put some more single barrels or limited release stuff there to keep people like me happy? Happy to lend my consulting expertise if anyone needs it.
2/5 unless it’s a release date then don’t have anything special there and it’s out of the way. Nice people and they let you taste though.
4.5/5 Lots of gift shop only releases these days including the 23yr and 12yr… people there are super friendly and easily accessible.
1/5 This one upset me. They only have a couple single barrels available in the gift shop but they won’t let you taste it. They make you pay $14 to go next door to the bar to pay for a flight of three. Well I did that and guess what? They weren’t that good so I didn’t buy. Maybe they knew their single barrels weren’t that good so they wouldn’t sell them? The staff was also pretty obnoxious about it too. I never did the tour but I can’t stress enough that this gift shop is a complete waste of time.
4.5/5 Beautiful building, amazing staff that are both friendly and knowledgeable. We got to try all the single barrels they had for sale and one was really good so I bought it. Highly recommend going here if you are on Whiskey Row.
2.5/5 Sometimes have some unique stuff. Closed on Wednesday’s though which is random.
2/5 Probably a pass for most people but only go if you are a huge fan. Beautiful building though.
5*/5 Only open if you are looking to buy a barrel, but they let you try everything and you can even play cornhole right in their warehouse. Otherwise they don’t really have a public gift shop (thus the *), but this was my favorite stop in Kentucky given their hospitality and willingness to let us try so many different things.
2/5 Gift shop not worth going to. Zero unique products and not close.
2/5 No longer do they have good single barrels available. Far away and generic. Pass.
2/5 This used to be a 5/5 but unless they have a WFE release they have nothing there you would want and it’s out of the way. Staff was pretty standoffish when I asked about WFE. Exceptionally disappointed by my trip here. I guess it’s only good if you are doing a barrel pick, otherwise don’t bother. If you are meeting with Drew and doing a barrel pick it’s a 5/5 though, but for just the gift shop, it’s a 2.
5/5 William Heavenhill, Grenades, what more could you want? Great gift shop. **Must Visit**
2.5/5 Free tastings, first gift shop open in Bardstown, but limited options in the gift shop. Would be two stars except the staff was just so nice to me even though they didn’t even know who I was.
Kentucky Artisan Distillery/Jefferson’s
2.5/5 Would be three stars if it were more conveniently located… they have a well stocked gift shop, mostly available everywhere but a couple unique items… if you love Jefferson’s it’s worth going or if you are just driving through, but not alone. The person at the front desk wasn’t particularly knowledgeable.
2.5/5 Beautiful facility, hit or miss on availability of single barrels.
Bardstown Bourbon Company
4.5/5 Definitely hit this one up after Heaven Hill. It’s almost brand new. Cool items in the gift shop you won’t find elsewhere and they let you try it. Next time I’m there I’m having lunch as well.
3/5 It gets knocked by half a star for being so far out of the way. It’s a great facility and although their product is young, it’s good. Single barrels available and free stickers! Not worth a trip by itself but if in the area it’s worth a detour. Will plan to go back in five years or so once they have more aged stock.
Belle Meade/Nelson Green
4/5 Lots of aged MGP cask strength single barrels available that are delicious. I generally hate tours and refuse to do them but this one is actually entertaining. Kolby the tour guide is great. Worth going if in Nashville.
Gift Shop 4/5
If you are going all there way here, you should do the tour… gift shop gets a four instead of a three because you get to actually dip your own bottle… pretty cool experience. If Maker’s is just ok to you, I’d pass, but if you love it, it’s a must go.
Gift Shop 1.5/5
Go to Frankfort for the tour, but if you are hoping to find literally anything allocated, good luck because it ain’t happening. A colleague of mine thought he’d be able to find Pappy there and flip it back in NYC. I just laughed at him. He was disappointed when he came back and thought I was lying to him. Oh well.