One of the youngest contenders in bourbon country has unveiled its new destination experience for visitors to casually tour its remote and enchanting grounds.
While Castle & Key Distillery, 4445 McCracken Pike in Frankfort, is still too young to produce its own bourbon, the distillery officially launched Wednesday a new initiative to encourage visitors. It’s called the Taylorton Station Experience and Counter 17 and is intended to accommodate time-crunched travelers while giving multiple other reasons for visitors to spend time sipping cocktails by the babbling Glenns Creek.
“We want to re-educate our guests that we’re not just a place for an experience,” said Caroline Cassin, brand manager for Castle & Key Distillery. “We’re a place where you can come spend time after a long workday or on the weekend when friends are in town. You can play cornhole and walk the botanical gardens with a drink in your hand.”
Castle & Key had its grand opening in September. At the outset, it offered visitors a full tour of its historic boiler room, distillery, sunken gardens and rickhouses. However, since the distillery is so young that it can’t technically meet the federal requirement of four years’ barreling to constitute bourbon, they’ve had to get creative.
So the distillery undertook the Taylorton Station Experience, which includes a tour of the grounds and a history lesson of Taylorton Station, as well as a tasting of Castle & Key’s Restoration Release gin in a cocktail curated to each guest’s palette.
Marianne Eaves, master distiller for Castle & Key, said the gin produced by the distillery is simple in construction but complex in its design with cocktails in mind.
“It just makes sense we would create an experience around how this is used in cocktails,” Eaves said. “106-proof gin makes a great backbone for a cocktail; and with the eight ingredients, we’ve been able to use that as inspiration for handmade ingredients to make all these unique profiles. No matter what, we’ll be able to find something that attracts you and excites you.”
In the tasting that follows, Castle & Key’s team of expert mixologists explores the specific herbs and botanicals used to create the Restoration Release gin, and helps guests select which herb or botanical they would like highlighted in their drinks. The process will be repeated for a second cocktail, which guests can take and walk around the botanical trail in the gardens.
Cassin said the new tour was partly to attract people to spend time on Castle & Key’s grounds and partly to accommodate visitors trying to pack as many stops on the Bourbon Trail as possible. While abbreviated, though, she said the intimacy is not lost in the Taylorton Experience.
“We realized that over time not everybody has an hour and a half to spend with us at any given time,” Cassin said. “Especially for those bouncing from distillery to distillery, we wanted to make sure that we create a multitude of options that still allow us to have a really personal connection with our guests.”
As part of the experience, visitors can also amble up to Counter 17, a walk-up window, where guests can order a locally sourced meat and cheese board and a selection of drinks, including Castle & Key’s signature cocktails, wine, beer, soda, coffees, teas and more. Further menu items will be added in the future.
The Taylorton Station is a 45-minute tour and costs $20. It features two cocktails, and guests will be able to keep their cocktail glass.