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High Tech Bourbon Tasting with Bulleit on the Bourbon Trail

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How do you elevate a Bourbon tasting and stand out on the Bourbon Trail? You play to all the senses to heighten the tasting experience. The Bulleit Bourbon Visitor Experience Center in Shelbyville Kentucky uses smart lights, soundscapes by Sonos and olfactory balls to transport you to the season that Bulleit thinks each bourbon is best paired with.

The subtle lighting and sound changes complement the bourbon tasting and the tasting rooms are still bright and airy. This is just part of the tech you’ll find at Bulleit, where you can also design your own label, print it out as a sticker and attach it to a bottle of Bulleit.

During a recent trip through parts of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, we had the chance to try out the high tech bourbon tasting at the 17th stop on the trail with an excellent host. You can watch the full Bulleit tasting in the video below to see the lights, hear the sounds and how the scent balls add to the tasting.

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The Bulleit Distilling Co. partnered with Sonos to deliver rotating sounds as you move through the four seasons and four bourbons. The tasting includes Bulleit Bourbon, 10-year-old, rye, and Barrel Strength. As the tasting kicks off the smart lights kick in along with the music to round out the senses. You’re already using taste and smell as the main component of the experience, but with this tech upgrade, you also use sight and sound. The olfactory balls, aka scent balls, help unlock additional flavors as you sample the various bourbons. Touch comes in with the tasting glasses to complete the experience.

This is a fun way to try new bourbons and an interesting upgrade to the tasting experience. I noticed the music the most, and the selections were just right to help set the stage for each season. The Sonos speakers are mounted up high and filled the room with sound. If you didn’t specifically look, you might not know that it is Sonos powered. They look like they may be Sonos Play 5 speakers.

It’s not clear what the smart lights are, but if you want to simulate this as part of a tasting at home, you could set up scenes using Hue smart lights or a more affordable option from Sengled.

Your front row look at the Bulleit Bourbon high tech tasting in Shelbyville, KY.

Your front row look at the Bulleit Bourbon high tech tasting in Shelbyville, KY.

The Olfactory Balls are decidedly low tech, but also a very real star of this experience. The complementary smells unlocked additional flavors and if you plan to host your own tasting, you should definitely follow Melissa’s advice and gather some fruit, leather and other items to smell. When you visit the Bulleit Bourbon Visitor Experience Center you’ll soon be able to buy a candle with your favorite scent from the gift shop.

While it would be easy to overshadow the Bourbon, everything about this high tech Bulleit tasting experience is ancillary, adding to the flavors without overpowering. This is definitely a must-visit stop on the Bourbon Trail. Tours are currently $20 per person with a tasting for adults over 21. Tours are free for anyone under 18. You can book a tour ahead of time and learn more about the hours and special events at the Bulleit Distilling Co. Visitor Experience website.

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