This city continues to find engaging ways to celebrate its stateâ€™s proud bourbon heritage aside from the plentiful availability of the beverage. The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse provides those frequenting Louisvilleâ€™s downtown area with another convenient opportunity to learn more about one of the worldâ€™s most popular whiskeys without committing to a daytrip with tour costs to see its rural origins.
The Stillhouseâ€™s flashy exterior on scenic Fourth Street has the bright modern flare that canâ€™t be missed. Immediately on display in its front window is the giant copper still where bourbon is produced before being shipped off to Clermont to age with the other batches. The interior is a large extended room where suspended bottles circle about the ceiling on a track providing a decorative energy like no other.
Right past a big shelf with a vast selection of Jim Beam whiskey products is a tree made from barrel wood. Various informative displays and merchandising tables lead up to a wide tasting bar where every 20 minutes a free tasting is available. Speaking as a local, itâ€™s an impressive site that I can only imagine would be a tempting draw for visitors of our fair city while strolling through.
â€œThe convention business is obviously the best because theyâ€™re looking for something to do and a lot of times they canâ€™t get down to the actual distillery, which is in Clermont; itâ€™s 30 minutes away,â€ says Megan Breier, who holds the title of Bourbon Ambassador for the company. â€œYouâ€™re in and out for a few days; you donâ€™t have much leisure time really. This is a really good place [to get] the Bourbon Trail experience. After hours, itâ€™s walking down Fourth Street, getting dinner, doing some shopping â€“ anything like that.â€
With the help from their bartenders, who spout knowledge along with bourbon, you can learn a great deal about the companyâ€™s history along with the origin story of each drink sampled. Just follow some simple rules: Inhale the sample glass with your lips parted in order to get an accurate gage of its aroma and be old enough to legally drink it.
On the tasting, you are given the three pre-selected samples of Jim Beam Black, Urban Stillhouse Select and Knob Creek Single Barrel 120 Proof. The tasting concludes with a fourth one of your choice. I had the satisfying Jim Beam Rye.
Breier explained that Jim Beam Rye recently transitioned to 90 proof. â€œI had a lot of accounts who were just absolutely fascinated because theyâ€™d carried the Jim Beam Rye â€“ the yellow label that was 80 proof â€“ and then they got this and said, â€˜Surely you changed something else besides the proof,â€™â€ says Breier. â€œItâ€™s a huge flavor difference. Youâ€™re just going to get a lot more flavors the higher the proof is. Itâ€™s going to be closer to what came out of the barrel.â€
Jim Beam products include Basil Haydenâ€™s, Bakerâ€™s, Bookerâ€™s and Knob Creek. They can all be found in the Urban Stillhouseâ€™s gift shop along with an original exclusive product: The in-store only Urban Stillhouse Select provides the sweet cozy warmth you should expect as a special token to take home.
â€œItâ€™s 6-years-old, 100 Proof. Itâ€™s non-chill-filtered so it has that oil viscosity â€¦ Itâ€™s really delicious,â€ says Breier of this undeniably tasty spirit. For a fair price, you can also take part in the production of your own bottle by labeling, dispensing, corking and stamping on its signature steel seal. You can also get a custom laser engraving for sentimental purposes. Hey, it could make a great valentine.
Despite this placeâ€™s undeniable appeal as a tourist staple, I was very happy to have visited this recent addition to the array of downtown attractions myself. It provides a beautiful gateway to the rest of Kentucky through the demonstration of process, information and experience. Whether youâ€™re bringing a friend or loved one along for the free engagement or taking advantage of its obvious status as a top-notch bourbon-themed store, it is really worth the visit! VT
The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse is located at 404 S. Fourth St. in the heart of downtown Louisville. It is open daily with varying operating hours. For more information go to jimbeam.com.
Photos by Bennett Duckworth