Tag Archives: Kentucky

Making Time For Bourbon

Tasting aged Makers Mark directly from the barrell! Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

After our Labor Day weekend time in Ohio, we were planning to head back to North Carolina. But a few weeks before our visit we heard about a new product being introduced by Maker’s Mark, their Cellar Aged Bourbon.

Prior to this new product, every Maker’s Mark product, from Maker’s Mark itself to Maker’s Mark 46, Private Select and Wood Finishing Series, has started with original Maker’s Mark bourbon, distilled from one mash bill then blended from (usually) 4-6 year old barrels to achieve a specific flavor profile. The new Cellar Aged product is a blend of 11-12 year old barrels, blended to a different flavor profile and bottled at cask strength. Hmmm….

Reception area at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Reception area at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Reception area at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Reception area at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

We love to try all sorts of different bourbon and rye whiskeys, but we’ve really become fans of Maker’s Mark. We love to visit the distillery – the grounds are beautiful, the people are friendly and they make good stuff! Kentucky seems to be on the way to or from just about anywhere, and we never want to pass up an opportunity to try and buy an interesting bourbon. So we tried to figure out how we might get there and pick some up.

I contacted the distillery to find out when Cellar Aged would be available for purchase. Well, they told me, they would eventually have some in the gift shop, BUT the official introduction would not be until later in the month. HOWEVER, if I wanted to be sure and get a bottle, I could book a special introductory, sneak-preview VIP tour, and the price of the ticket would include a bottle. Conveniently, the first such tour was scheduled for Thursday September 8, which fit our schedule perfectly. Fate!

Early morning cocktails! Before our tour at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

Our tour started with a welcome cocktail – at 9:15 in the morning! – and a talk about the story behind the development of Cellar Aged. Then it was on to a tour of the distillery. While we have done a number of tours at Maker’s Mark, for this tour we had an opportunity to watch them test a sample of wheat from a truck, then unload the truck into the storage bin. We got to go literally “behind the scenes” in the still house and tasted some of the raw distillate – known as low wine, straight off the still. A real eye opener as it was still before 10:00!

Truck delivering grain at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Testing the grain for quality before accepting delivery. Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Still house at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Fermentation room at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Fermentation room at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

We visited the quaint Print Shop where all the labels are printed and cut, and this was the first time we had actually seen the shop in operation. Very cool. Then we visited the bottling line, where the bottles are filled and every one is dipped by hand with the signature red wax seal. We had seen the line before, both in operation and not, and this time it was operating at full tilt. They dip a lot of bottles, and those workers are really fast! And yes, they spell each other off on a regular basis, which limits the fatigue level. Regardless it must be hard work!

Making labels in the Print Shop at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Bottling line at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Bottling line at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Bottling line at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

The best part of any tour, other than the actual tasting, is a visit to a rick house. There is nothing like the smell you get, standing in the midst of hundreds of barrels, with thousands of gallons of bourbon, aging peacefully in the Kentucky countryside. This tour was no exception, as we visited one of the original buildings on the site as well as the Limestone Cellar that was specifically created for the aging of specialty products like 46, Private Select and now Cellar Aged.

Tasting aged Makers Mark directly from the barrell! Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Tasting aged Makers Mark directly from the barrell! Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky

Once inside the 50 degree Limestone Cellar, we were presented with a taste of unblended bourbon from one of the 12 year old barrels, alongside a taste of the final Cellar Aged product. I have to say that we were not disappointed. Since we haven’t opened our own bottles yet, I can’t get into a detailed description, but suffice it to say that we will enjoy it – a little at a time – over the course of the coming months or possibly years. It isn’t something to make cocktails with – unless you just want to! – it deserves to be sipped and savored however you like to enjoy bourbon.

Limestone aging cellar at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Beth Buckner, Senior Manager of Innovation and Blending, introducing Cellar Aged Makers Mark during our Pre-release Cellar Aged Experience. Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Private Select Tasting Room at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Private Select Tasting Room at Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Makers Mark Distillery near Loretto, Kentucky
Our bottles of Cellar Aged Makers Mark!

What Else Is Kentucky Known For? Horses Of Course!

Champion trotter ‘Mr. Muscleman’ in the Hall of Champions at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

We capped off our visit to Kentucky with a day at the Kentucky Horse Park, near Lexington.

Funny Cide (foaled April 20, 2000) is a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He is the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He was an immensely popular horse and remains a fan favorite in retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
Funny Cide (foaled April 20, 2000) is a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He is the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He was an immensely popular horse and remains a fan favorite in retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

I don’t know much about horses, but I still found it to be an interesting place. One of the things that quickly becomes apparent is that horses need lots of care. Especially horses that are shown or raced at a high level. And even just casual ownership is not something for a part timer. You either need lots of time, lots of money to pay someone else, or most likely both.

Display of trophies from Calumet Farms in the International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
International Museum of the Horse at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

The park puts on a number of shows during the day. We attended two “Parade of Breeds” shows, where they showcase specific breeds of horses, tell about their heritage and how they were utilized over the years. There is a barn with draft horses – they are huge! – and a Hall of Champions where they house former race winners, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. And don’t forget about the International Museum of the Horse!

The Knabstrupper or Knabstrup is a Danish breed of warmblood horse. It is principally a riding horse, but is also used as a harness horse and as a circus animal. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
‘Mackenzie,’ a Clydesdale/Dales Pony cross, part of the police horse force at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Haflinger, also known as the Avelignese, is a breed of horse developed in Austria and northern Italy (namely Hafling in South Tyrol region) during the late 19th century. Haflinger horses are relatively small, are always chestnut with flaxen mane and tail, have distinctive gaits described as energetic but smooth, and are well-muscled yet elegant. The breed traces its ancestry to the Middle Ages; several theories for its origin exist. Haflingers, developed for use in mountainous terrain, are known for their hardiness. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Akhal-Teke is a Turkmen horse breed. They have a reputation for speed and endurance, intelligence, and a distinctive metallic sheen. The shiny coat of the breed led to their nickname, “Golden Horses.” Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The American Brabant is a draft horse โ€‹with 25 to 99% European Belgian bloodlines. It presents with a variety of appearances but is typically shorter in stature, short coupled and thick boned, with a good head and kind eye. Their calm, willing disposition makes them suitable for a wide range of work and they are most commonly found performing farm work, logging and pulling wagons. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The American Saddlebred is a horse breed from the United States. This breed is referred to as the “Horse America Made”. Descended from riding-type horses bred at the time of the American Revolution, the American Saddlebred includes the Narragansett Pacer, Canadian Pacer, Morgan and Thoroughbred among its ancestors. Developed into its modern type in Kentucky, it was once known as the “Kentucky Saddler” and used extensively as an officer’s mount in the American Civil War. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Fjord Horse or Norwegian Fjord Horse is a relatively small but very strong horse breed from the mountainous regions of western Norway. It is an agile breed of light draught horse build. One of the world’s oldest breeds, it has been used for hundreds of years as a farm horse in Norway, and in modern times is popular for its generally good temperament. It is used both as a harness horse and under saddle. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Shire is a British breed of draught horse. It is usually black, bay, or grey. It is a tall breed, and Shires have at various times held world records both for the largest horse and for the tallest horse. The Shire has a great capacity for weight-pulling; it was used for farm work, to tow barges at a time when the canal system was the principal means of goods transport, and as a cart-horse for road transport. One traditional use was for pulling brewer’s drays for delivery of beer, and some are still used in this way; others are used for forestry, for riding and for commercial promotion. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
Finale of the Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Friesian (also Frizian) is a horse breed originating in Friesland, in the Netherlands. Although the conformation of the breed resembles that of a light draught horse, Friesians are graceful and nimble for their size. It is believed that during the Middle Ages, ancestors of Friesian horses were in great demand as war horses throughout continental Europe. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The American Paint Horse is a breed of horse that combines both the conformational characteristics of a western stock horse with a pinto spotting pattern of white and dark coat colors. Developed from a base of spotted horses with Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred bloodlines, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) breed registry is now one of the largest in North America. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed developed for horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Carolina Marsh Tacky or Marsh Tacky is a rare breed of horse, native to South Carolina. It is a member of the Colonial Spanish group of horse breeds, which also include the Florida Cracker Horse and the Banker horse of North Carolina. It is a small horse, well adapted for use in the lowland swamps of its native South Carolina. The Marsh Tacky developed from Spanish horses brought to the South Carolina coast by Spanish explorers, settlers and traders as early as the 16th century. The horses were used by the colonists during the American Revolution, and by South Carolinians for farm work, herding cattle and hunting throughout the breed’s history. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Sugarbush Draft is a relatively new breed of healthy and colorful draft horses that developed in the United States in the early latter half of the 19th century. Known for their strikingly spectacular coat and gentle disposition, these horses are still very popular in show events. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (pura raza espaรฑola) is a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where its ancestors have lived for thousands of years. Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky
Finale of the Parade of Breeds at the Breeds Barn at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

Like I said, there is a lot to know about horses. And the more you know about horses the more you would probably enjoy a place like the Kentucky Horse Park.

Due to leaving the park during rush hour traffic, we ended up taking the “scenic route” back through the countryside, passing some of the huge horse farms you don’t see from the highway. THAT’S where the real money keeps their horses! ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was a nice day – plenty of sunshine, reasonable temperatures and more time with friends. Oh, and lots of horses too! ๐Ÿ™‚

Again, in case you missed it, more photos from our Kentucky trip are here.

Back To Bourbon Country

Rickhouse at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky

I mentioned in an earlier post that Kathy & I had recently visited Bardstown, Kentucky. We met friends Jim & Lisa there, as it is roughly equidistant for them and for us. Kathy & I arrived a day early, visiting Bardstown Bourbon Company and Heaven Hill Distillery before meeting up with Jim & Lisa that afternoon.

Visitor Center at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky
Patio at the Kitchen and Bar. Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky
Patio at the Kitchen and Bar. Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky
Inside the rick house at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of the loveliest smells in the world!
Inside the rick house at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of the loveliest smells in the world!

The following day, the four of us visited the Kentucky Cooperage (no photos permitted) to see how barrels are made (a fascinating process), then Limestone Branch Distillery and Maker’s Mark.

Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

The following day we visited Kentucky horse park for a whole different set of smells. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Photos from that day will come later.

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
The Worlds Smallest Rickhouse. Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

For those who wish to see more, a gallery of photos from our trip are posted on my Adobe Portfolio website.

Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

Challenging “Murphy”

Inside the rick house at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of the loveliest smells in the world! Processed using “Denoise” in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

As in Murphy’s Law….

Kathy & I returned Sunday from a few days in Bardstown, Kentucky. We met our friends Jim & Lisa there, and spent a few days exploring distilleries and horse country.

This morning we needed to go to the grocery store. As we are in the beginning stages of what looks to be a week long monsoon, we went prepared. Raincoats and umbrellas, leaving the sunglasses at home. As it turned out, no rain, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as we left the store. Perfect!

When we returned home I decided to leave the car in the driveway, hoping for a “free car wash” to dispel the layer of dust we had accumulated over the week. Several hours later, no rain. Finally we got a nice heavy shower, just enough to wash off the loose crud. Good for a few more days!

Chasing A Sunset

Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

After we finished up at Limestone Branch in Lebanon, we headed back to our motel in Bardstown. At some point during the drive I noticed that the sky held some promise for an interesting sunset. I knew that we would be passing by Heaven Hill distillery and thought it might make for an interesting foreground, but I wasn’t sure we would get there in time.

Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

We probably missed the peak of the dramatic sky, but we stuck around long enough to get a little color. I didn’t carry a tripod on this trip (I know, I know, but it was about the baby, remember? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) so I had to be a little careful to balance shutter speeds and ISO.

Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

Heaven Hill is a nice distillery, and we have visited there previously. Their visitor center is one of the best. We arrived well after closing time, but the parking lot was accessible so I was able wander around and get a few shots in the nice light.

Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky
Sunset at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

Tiny But Mighty: Limestone Branch Distillery

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

After our visit to Maker’s Mark, Kathy & I drove to Lebanon, KY for some lunch. Lebanon also happens to be the home of Limestone Branch Distillery, another of our favorites. It was on the way back to our motel and it was open, so of course we needed to stop. And tour. And taste. And buy! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

Limestone Branch likes to say that they are currently the only distillery owned and operated by someone named Beam. Stephen & Paul Beam opened Limestone Branch in 2012, and while the distillery is fairly new in bourbon terms, they are producing some old-timey bourbon using old-timey recipes. The distillery traces its roots back to Jacob Beam in 1795, is best known for producing Yellowstone bourbon from the original mash bill. Yes, the bourbon is named after the National Park. And while it is not affiliated with the TV series, they are not minding the free publicity. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Samples! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

The place is not very big, and there are no picturesque acres of rickhouses on the property like the big boys, but what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm.

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Worlds Smallest Rickhouse! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Thieving it straight from the barrel! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

A Detour To Kentucky

Sour mash getting happy at Makers Mark Distillery

On our way back from Ohio we made a slight detour to Kentucky. See, they have bourbon there, and we needed to get some. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Where the magic happens. Still house at Makers Mark Distillery

Several years ago I signed up to be an “Ambassador” for Maker’s Mark. The deal was that as an Ambassador I had a barrel which was “mine,” and when the barrel was ready for use I would be invited back to the distillery and given the opportunity to buy some of the bourbon. I received my “Golden Ticket” in October, and I had until the end of March to make my pilgrimage to take the tour and buy our bourbon. Since Kentucky was kind of on the way from Ohio it was easier to go on our way home than to make a special trip.

Rickhouse at Makers Mark Distillery

As it turns out, the bourbon is regular Maker’s Mark from a batch that contained “my” barrel and not just from the actual barrel itself. No matter. It was as good an excuse as any to go there, and we always enjoy the tour. Of course we purchased a few bottles, and at the end of the tour we went to the gift shop to hand dip our bottles with the famous red wax seal. We are now well stocked with Maker’s Mark! ๐Ÿ™‚

Print shop at Makers Mark Distillery
Bottling line at Makers Mark Distillery
Bottling line at Makers Mark Distillery
Hand-dipping our Ambassador bottles at Makers Mark Distillery
Hand-dipping our Ambassador bottles at Makers Mark Distillery
Souvenirs! Our haul of Ambassador bottles from Makers Mark

A Visit To The National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

The first night’s stop on our northwest road trip was Bowling Green, KY.ย  And thanks to making good time on I-40 and to gaining an hour with the move into the Central time zone, we arrived in time to visit the National Corvette Museum.ย  It’s hard not to love the Corvette, even if you are a long-time Ford fan.ย  The museum is nicely done, with an excellent collection of Corvettes from all years, along with concept cars and a scattering of other makes from the early years.

National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

One thing I had forgotten about was that in 2014 a portion of the museum floor collapsed into a huge sinkhole, sending 8 priceless cars plunging into the abyss.ย  The sinkhole has been filled in and the floor has been rebuilt.ย  Several of the cars were damaged beyond repair, but they were returned to their original place in the museum as they were recovered.ย  A frightening sight and reminder not to mess with nature!ย  The museum’s website has some information about the sinkhole and the exhibit they created to tell the story.ย  It’s pretty interesting, especially the timelapse of the effort to fill in the hole!

1984 PPG Pace Car. Cars damaged in the sinkhole collapse on February 12, 2014 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. These cars were deemed to be unrepairable but were returned to their original position on the floor once the building was repaired.
Cars damaged in the sinkhole collapse on February 12, 2014 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. These cars were deemed to be unrepairable but were returned to their original position on the floor once the building was repaired.

An unexpected bonus of our visit was a display of cars and car art by legendary artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth of Rat Fink fame.ย  I remember idolizing his work as a kid along with cars by designer George Barris, and I’m pretty sure that at one time I had built plastic models of a few of these cars.ย  That was a long time ago!

“Rat Fink” exhibit – custom cars and art by legendary car designer and artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
“Rat Fink” exhibit – custom cars and art by legendary car designer and artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
“Rat Fink” exhibit – custom cars and art by legendary car designer and artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
“Rat Fink” exhibit – custom cars and art by legendary car designer and artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

I’ve posted a sampling of photos from our visit here on this page, but for those who want to dig deeper I’ve created an album from our trip on my Adobe Portfolio page and have added a gallery of more photos from the museum.ย  Enjoy!

I would have brought this one home with me but I wanted a red one. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Postcard From Bowling Green, Kentucky

National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

We’re currently in Billings, MT and enjoying our first “non-get-up-and-go” morning since we left home.ย  It’s been 5 days of beautiful but somewhat grueling driving, done on purpose because our ultimate destination is still a few days away!ย  We’ve seen some amazing scenery and I’ve taken (more than) a few photos, but haven’t wanted to spend my down time on the computer.ย  So here’s a tidbit to keep the flow going.ย  I’ll probably work on a few more soon but it’s time for breakfast! ๐Ÿ˜‰