Bourbon Gin Chronicles: Castle & Key Distillery
This is a location not to be missed. Personally, I’m more of a gin fan. And while this distillery is technically not (at this time) part of the KY Bourbon trail, it is absolutely worth your time to visit. They’ve recently started releasing a line of bourbons. At the time of our first visit and tour (August 2022), we procured their small batch Restoration Rye Whiskey.
To start, their spirits are bottled at a proof point higher than 100+ (50%ABV) so that, when their spirits are added to a cocktail mix, the product retains its flavor and strength. This distillery is most well known for its small batch products.
Castle & Key is located an hour east of Louisville, just outside the state’s capital city of Frankfort.
Castle & Key Visit
You’ll wind through some narrow, wooded roads to get to the distillery. And keep in mind, this distillery’s property was built in the 1800’s so, get ready to go back in time. It will feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. — until you’re not.
Your tour will take you, quite literally, through the bowels of one of the older distillery structures in the region. Even-though C&K hasn’t been producing bourbon for the past decade, the architecture alone makes it worth the visit.
|Name||Location||Tour Time||Tour Name||Cost/ person||Address||Food on site|
|Castle & Key||Frankfurt||1 hour||The Distillery Experience||$30||4445 McCracken Pike|
Frankfort, KY 40601
There’s currently no substantial food options on sight. There is a counter bar called Taylorton Station (Counter 17) offering cocktails, neat pours and (very limited) small plates like a cheese platter or potato chips. But as long as you’ve had something to eat beforehand, you’ll be just fine.
Castle & Key Tasting – Gin, Bourbon and Vodka
In addition the grounds and architecture, what’s also unique about Castle & Key is their product lineup; they produce their own gin, bourbon and vodka. Which means your tasing will include more than 4+ variations of bourbon. I’m a gin person at heart so this place speaks to me. I’d say it’s largely a gin distillery but their portfolio of small batch items is expanding. My favorite gin that they produce is Roots of Ruin gin. Since their production is as small as it is, the barrel mixing technique employed by most commercial distilleries doesn’t have the same effect of uniformity when it comes to the flavor profiles. Ultimately, each release — whether gin or whiskey — is distinctly different from the others, and is marketed as such.
At each tasting station, there was a pre-made g&t cocktail and a small pour of their Rye Whiskey.
Fun factoid: The primary rickhouse was constructed during the Cold War. At the time, the US government was offering subsidies for the construction of bomb shelters. In a rather ingenious budget play, the distillery elected to construct their 7-story rickhouse out of concrete. This technically qualified it as a bomb shelter, which resulted in the government picking up the bill for its construction!
Review: 4.5 ice cubes
This is a fabulous location from the architecture to the grounds to the amazing products. There’s ample room on the grounds to enjoying the outdoor garden atmosphere with your Castle & Key gin or bourbon cocktails. In our opinion, the only reason it doesn’t get 5 ice cubes is because there is no food option, or restaurant. Still, it’s not to be missed.
Watch more highlights from our visit to Castle & Key on my Instagram Story.