Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is a Bourbon Tour Appropriate for Children?

Most people have no desire to see where their toaster was made, or their clothing, or where their food was grown. Yet tours of breweries, wineries, and distilleries are popular all over the world. In addition to seeing whiskey being made, visitors to Kentucky's bourbon country can see whiskey barrels being made, and whiskey candy, whiskey soy sauce, even whiskey cigars. They can stay in a self-described whiskey-themed hotel. They can eat food with whiskey in it. They can buy tons of souvenirs emblazoned with whiskey brand names.

More and more people visit Kentucky every year to see a distillery or other whiskey attraction. Tennessee too. Jack Daniel's alone receives 250,000 visitors annually.

Many bring their children.

Children may not participate in tastings, of course, but they are welcome on all of the tours. Here is how the Kentucky Bourbon Trail addresses it on their 'frequently asked questions' page:

Are people under 21 allowed to take tours?

All distilleries require you to be at least 21 to sample their products if they offer tastings, but anyone is welcome to tour the distilleries. You must be 21 to participate in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Passport Program. 

If you visit the distilleries, you will see many families with children. You will see children of all ages, from babies in strollers to teenagers.

All of the content on these tours is about how whiskey is made, about the families who make it, and about the history. There is very little about drinking it.

Whiskey, however, is an adult product. We try to keep it away from kids, both as parents and as a society. It takes a village, you know. Some people believe advertising for alcohol should be banned because it makes children want to drink. If that's true, then what will visiting a distillery do to them?

The many people who would never dream of visiting a distillery themselves probably don't think children should be allowed, but if you think like that why are you even reading this? You're in a very whiskey-friendly space right now, in case you haven't noticed.

Planning a family vacation is hard. It can be a challenge to find something that appeals to everyone. Maybe that's why so many families default to Disney. The distilleries allow parents to bring their children along on tours, but they don't say whether or not they think it is a good idea. That decision is left up to the judgment of the parents. That's where it belongs.


Keith W said...

I think kids on a tour depends on the distillery. It's more a practical thing than a moral thing. Makers, Woodford, even the new Beam Experience -- these are cultivated spaces aimed at a sort of picnic-y family event. I think they work well for kids, because there's space for them to run around and be kids when their attention inevitably wanes regarding info about mashbills, while separating that stuff a bit from people who are interested in the tour itself (adults). On the other hand, Four Roses, Wild Turkey -- these are industrial, behind the scenes tours full of machinery and grit. I think kids would be bored silly on them, which causes problems. Maybe someone with kids can develop a rating system for each distillery.

Now, kids in a bar...that's another thing entirely!

Anonymous said...

Richnimrod said,
As with so much of our society nowadays, many folx will be very quick to point out the "political incorrectness" of sooooo many things. ...Including visiting a distillery of spirits. ...But, how few there are that will allow parents to be responsible for ANY decisions with which these folx disagree.
It must be nice to be always right, about everything everybody else is doing...? Anybody who chooses to do some activity with their OWN CHILDREN, which is completely legal, needn't be concerned with the OPINIONS of these boors. Just MOHO.

nathan kaiser said...

We have always been open to kids at 2bar Spirits in Seattle. Kids love seeing all the equipment, barrels and all the great smells!

Steve Coomes said...

I see no problem with it since the focus is on history and production. There's whiskey in my house, where my underage son is, whiskey in the restaurants we frequent (not to mention the one in which he works) and whiskey books and magazines all around the house. The message is everywhere, but it's still up to my wife and me to do our best to keep him from consuming it, hard as that is when he's a curious teen. The worst thing that could happen from a tour is that a child would get multi-level education in fermentation, distillation and history. Surely anyone younger than 8th grade would be, as one person said, bored silly. High school and up might think it's cool.

Wojtek Goltz said...

If children can go to gun shops and even are allowed to hold machin guns, then I do not see any problem.
Sooner or later they will start to drink too.

Crown Point Marc said...

........and shoot heroin. Oh, the poor children.

toxdoc said...

I was that kid who did want to see where my toaster (well ok it was my washing machine) was made, or my tractor,bacon or truck or boubon or cigarettes were made. The joys of growing up in Louisville. Some kids aren't bored with factory tours . Some kids thrive on them. Dont sell them short. Never shot heroin but have administered Narcan a few times

Chuck Cowdery said...

Me too, but we're in the minority.

Chuck Cowdery said...

The factory part, not the drugs part.