I've become a fan of bourbon in recent years, so when a friend mentioned on Facebook that she had one spot open for a tour of a local distillery, I jumped at the chance to go along.
The evening got off to a late start at a local Thai restaurant; three out of the four of us were delayed by terrible rush hour traffic. After I was seated, the waiter said I looked familiar and asked if I sang in a band. It turned out that several of the restaurant staff had been at a bar nearby for one of my band's gigs a month or so ago and they recognized me and even showed me a photo of my band on someone's phone. It was the first time that kind of thing has ever happened to me. Naturally I invited them to see us play at that same bar again next month.
After a hearty Thai dinner we were off to Dark Horse Distillery, a family-owned, small batch distillery that produces bourbon, rye, white whiskey and vodka. I was surprised to find a distillery in Kansas at all considering their oppressive liquor laws.
The facility is about 50% distillery and 50% event space and it was already beautifully decorated for Christmas. As soon as I walked in the door, the smell of the fermenting grain was immediately apparent and quite pleasant.
We started the tour with a short video about the company and then got to walk around and see how they actually make their products.
Dark Horse produces liquor on such a small scale that their bottling equipment only handles four bottles at a time, they cork them by hand, and the master distiller signs each bottle and writes in the batch number on the label.
After the tour we got the chance to taste each of the four liquors. I'd already had a glass of the Reserve Bourbon Whiskey before the tour and that remained my favorite. However, the vodka was very nice with a very vanilla-like flavor that they said came from the wheat variety they use. They also had a white whiskey that would make a good tequila-like mixer for fruity drinks.
I'd love to host a party there sometime. The event space is gorgeous and it's conveniently close to a major highway. If you have any interest in whiskey or vodka, I'd say sign up for a tour. Now I'm trying to decide who might enjoy a bottle as a Christmas gift...