Bluegrass Roadtrips: Ale-8-One tour takes you behind the scenes
Published 8:56 am Friday, March 10, 2017
It’s not often you get to experience the behind-the-scenes production of one of your favorite treats. But you can do just that when you visit the Ale-8-One Bottling Company in Winchester.
The plant is where one of central Kentucky’s favorite sodas is bottled, labeled and then shipped around the state. Ale 8 has been bottled in Winchester since 1926 and the company claims the soft drink is the only one invented in Kentucky still in existence.
The tour begins with a short video telling the story of G.L. Wainscott, founder and inventor of Ale 8. An actor portrays Wainscott and tells how he moved from bottling soda water and flavored drinks in a plant in downtown Winchester to experimenting in ginger-blended recipes, which eventually led to Ale-8-One secret formula.
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One of the most surprising pieces of information was that Wainscott’s great-great nephew, Fielding Rogers, still mixes the Ale-8 syrup in a locked room using his uncle’s hand-written notes.
A tour guide also explains some of the ways the soda was bottled and transported in the past before taking groups into the actual bottling plant to see the process in action.
Although the tour is short, it was interesting to see the process and learn about all the details that go into making just one bottle of the soda, including loading the hundreds of empty green glass bottles, labeling, sanitizing, filling, capping and packaging. Visitors get to watch the process up close.
The plant is conveniently located just off of Interstate 64 and within walking distance of several restaurants and a short drive from downtown Winchester.
Tours last 30 to 45 minutes and are given by reservation on Thursday and Friday mornings. Tours can accommodate individuals or groups.
Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to visit the company store, where you can purchase everything from Ale-8 T-shirts, onesies and sippy cups to shot glasses and magnets, along with other Ale-8 food products like salsa, barbecue sauce and suckers. The store is also open to the public.
Tours culminate with a free drink of Ale-8-One in a returnable bottle, which supposedly boasts the best flavor.