Be a Thief of Whiskey: Sample Straight from the Barrel

As a child, I had this unrelenting fantasy of being locked overnight in a toy store — I believe it was Children’s Palace at the time. Sure, I’d miss my mom and dad, but, oh, the adventures I’d have playing with every single action figure in the universe — from Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers to G.I. Joe and Pound Puppies.

This may sound strange, but I still feel that yearning to be let loose with no supervision. Instead of a toy store, though, I want to run rampant through a Kentucky bourbon distillery.

Lock me inside a rick house and throw away the key! But first, give me a sleeping bag and a whiskey thief … and maybe some cheese to sustain me through the night. I could spend hours sipping from barrel to barrel, and I might even entertain myself by creating my own blend.

Of course this is only a fantasy, and the chances of me actually being allowed to do a sleepover inside a rick house are slim to none. But lucky for me — and anyone who might share a similar passion — I can get pretty darn close to that escapade on Jeptha Creed’s Barrel Tasting Experience.

This 60-minute, one-of-a-kind adventure will whisk you and your friends to one of Jeptha Creed’s many barrel warehouses, where you’ll get to learn all about the brand and history of Kentucky bourbon. And then — wait for it — you get to drink whiskey straight from a barrel, whiskey thief and all! There’s just something so special about tasting bourbon straight out of a barrel that makes this experience fun, tasty and eye-opening.

Of course Jeptha Creed as pulled out all the stops to make you and your guests feel comfortable while consuming whiskey in the raw. So why not put about a dozen overly large and very comfortable leather La-Z-Boy chairs in the rick house as well? And if it’s cold out, they even bust out the blankets to ensure you’re as warm and toasty as the spirits you’re swallowing.

The rick house is truly a magical place, so experiencing it in all its rustic glory while sampling whiskey and listening to stories from educated, energetic and entertaining tour guides is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon. Plus, the sample itself is special and will probably be one of the only times you get to taste bourbon or whiskey in its truest form — before water is added and before any filtering processes occur. In fact, if you’re nerdy like me, you’ll revel at the black flakes of char from the barrel if they make it into your glass.

The Barrel Tasting Experience at Jeptha Creed is available Thursdays through Sundays at the distillery. It’s best you book ahead online, because these tours tend to sell out quickly.


What is a Whiskey Thief?

A whiskey thief is a tool that distillers use to extract a small amount of bourbon from a barrel through its bung hole. It’s typically made of copper and has been the tool of choice for centuries in the distilling industry, especially when pulling samples for tastings, barrel picks and lab analysis.

It functions similarly to a drinking straw: With holes on both ends, a distiller will insert the whiskey thief into a barrel, cover the top hole with her thumb, and then pull it out and place a glass underneath the bottom hole. Once she releases her thumb, whiskey will come streaming out of the copper thief and into the glass.


Written by: Sara Havens | | @barbelle_lou


Be An Ambassador