Many distilleries offer behind-the-scenes tours that can help you learn more about how they make their spirits. Included with these tours is often a tasting experience, where you'll get to sample a few of the distillery's top sellers. Taking one of these tours can be an exciting experience, whether alone or with a group of friends. Still, if you're planning to attend your first bourbon tour, there are some basic etiquette tips you should be aware of.
Call Ahead for Large Groups
If you'll be traveling in a large group, it's always a good idea to call the distillery ahead of time and let them know you're coming. Give the staff notice, when possible, by calling at least a day ahead of your scheduled visit. This is especially important if you'll be visiting a smaller distillery during a peak-time, such as on a weekend. Calling ahead is a great way to give the distillery staff time to prepare for your group's visit while ensuring that other visitors still receive the attention they deserve.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
While touring a distillery, you'll likely see lots of eye-catching equipment — including the copper stills and wooden barrels that are often used to store and age these spirits. However, unless you've been explicitly given permission from the distillery staff to touch any of the equipment, it's important to keep your hands to yourself. A lot of the equipment used to make bourbon can run at high temperatures, so you could be putting your safety at risk by not heeding this cardinal rule.
Remember: It's a Tasting Experience
If you attend a tasting as part of your bourbon tour, show some respect by actually tasting the samples rather than throwing them back like shots. A lot of time, care, and craft go into making the spirits that you'll be tasting.
Don't Try to Haggle
If you're thinking about buying a bottle of your favorite spirit, expect to pay the price on the bottle. Distilleries price their bottles fairly, according to the time and work that goes into making them. Asking for a lower price or trying to haggle is not only poor etiquette but is insulting to the staff as well. If you're looking to save money, you might inquire as to whether the distillery offers a discount for buying multiple bottles.
With a little preparation, you can enjoy your first bourbon tour and learn a lot about the process of making some of your favorite spirits!