A lot of us have time on our hands, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be idle time.
Whether it be to satisfy curiosity, for the entertainment value or professional development, going on a virtual tour of a distillery can sometimes be more informative that actually going there. What follows are nine distillery tours available online, representing the best of what is out there in a range extending from bourbon to tequila.
Whiskies Great and Small
Buffalo Trace Distillery
The home of such prized brand names as Blanton’s, Colonel E.H. Taylor and Weller, Buffalo Trace has spent the last several years seeing its visitor numbers climb year upon year. Even so, they recognized that not everyone who wanted to see its historic grounds outside of Frankfort, Kentucky could make the trip, so they created a virtual tour. What sets it apart from so many in this category is it is part of a larger package that includes a bourbon trivia challenge, so you can test your knowledge afterward.
Catoctin Creek Distillery
Capturing the experience of visiting a small distillery, Catoctin Creek has produced a video tour led by co-founder and distiller Scott Harris. As the fellow narrating the experience is also the one who not just makes, but also conceived of the whiskeys and other spirits in question (Catoctin Creek is known mostly for their rye whiskey, but they also have a gin and some brandies), he goes beyond what most virtual tours do in discussing his production process. Ironically, the smallest distillery on this list also produced what is arguably the best technical presentation of the bunch.
Four Roses Distillery
One of the highlights of visiting the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky is enjoying its distinctive Spanish Mission architecture. The Four Roses virtual tour reflects that in the sense that it’s rustic by multimedia standards, being rooted in still photos and text descriptions. Yet each point as you make your way through the presentation is anchored on a useful bit of trivia; as always, the more you read, the more you learn, and you’ll take away some fun tidbits for sure from the Four Roses virtual tour.
Using Google Maps as a platform, this is Talisker’s official and quite unguided virtual tour of their Isle of Skye-based distillery. Using the point and click-through system anyone who had navigated Google’s street-level views are already familiar with, it’s a 3D and 360-degree experience of the famed Hebrides distillery and maker of Islands region single malts. The one drawback is the virtual tour is short on narration, so I recommend it only for those who already know something about how Scotch is made (or else go read up on the process first). A similar tour is also available for the Speyside distillery Cardhu.
In contrast to the self-guided approach of their neighbors at Lagavulin, Laphroaig has gone for a video presentation tour. That means a treat for the eye and the ear (the narrator has a light-but-pleasing Scots accent) as the breathtaking setting and scenes of the distillery are put to full effect. Even folks who dislike smoky whisky will give the matter a second thought after seeing this video tour of Laphroaig.
Lux Row Distillers
The makers of Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell and Blood Oath are newcomers to Bardstown, Kentucky, having opened their distillery in 2018. Thus, they probably had their slick, quick and informative video presentation in mind from the very beginning. Comparing it against having been there both during and after construction, I found the presentation easy, accurate and complete.
Gin, Rum and Tequila
Bayou Rum Distillery
Long before rum became associated with the Caribbean, a big chunk of the economy of colonial America was rooted in turning molasses imported from that region into rum. One could argue that New England-made rum was America’s original industrial product. These days, American rum is closely associated with places that still grow sugarcane, such as Louisiana. You don’t need to go there to see for yourself, though: Bayou Rum distillery has a video and a Google Maps-based 360-degree tour, creating a complete education package.
Patron Tequila Estate
Patron used Oculus to create a 360 degree VR tour of their hacienda, and it certainly merits it. The agave-based spirits have a truly unique production process and setting, so having been to a rum or whiskey distillery fails to prepare you for the experience. The format and its supporting videography are so compelling that it doesn’t take much to imagine you are there (accompany with some Patron tequila and you might just be able to fool your senses), doing full justice to the subject.
Sipsmith Gin Distillery
When one thinks of gin, they usually think of London, and the best place to start with modern London gin is with the first distillery to open there in 200 years, Sipsmith. In their video tour, enthusiastic founder Sam Galsworthy and authoritative master distiller Jared Brown guide you through their facility and their process.