Summer Vacation – Kentucky Part 3

The fourth installment in my summer vacation recap is about our stops at Maker’s Mark, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace distilleries. You can read about the first stop in Cleveland, our first day in Kentucky, and our second day at Jim Beam via the links.

makers mark 5

Our first stop at Maker’s Mark was a hike. It was about an hour drive to get there from our hotel, but we started with that one so we could work our way back through the other distilleries. Maker’s Mark was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980, so as you tour the grounds you get a peek back in time.

Makers Mark Collage

Most of the distilleries were shutdown for summer so we got a unique look at the cypress fermentation tanks. Some of them have planks that are more than 200 years old.

Makers Mark Collage2

Some of you may know that Maker’s Mark has a distinctive red wax seals on all of its bottles. This was trademarked in 2012 and no other liquor company can use the red wax seal on their bottles. We had the chance to tour the bottling area and see where the bottles are dipped.

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Makers Mark Collage3

As we were checking out the barrels we learned that they put special wood slats into the Maker’s 46 barrels to give it that extra oakey flavor.

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We got to sample all of the different Maker’s Mark varieties in their special tasting room. I especially liked the Maker’s 46:

makers tasting

John and I had a lot of fun in the gift shop where we got to dip our own Maker’s bottles and take them home. They are so cool that I never want to open them!

Makers Collage 4

After Maker’s Mark, we headed over to Four Roses Distillery. We didn’t make it in time for the tour, but they had a patio tasting going on so we signed up for that. I loved the name of Four Roses, which was named after a romance, you can read the full story here.

four roses

We had a little break after this stop and headed over to Wallace Station for a delicious lunch. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. It was the perfect place to stop and right in between our distillery visits.

wallace station

We had a little bit of time to kill as we had signed up for a ghost tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery. When we arrived the distillery was seemingly deserted, setting the stage for the tour.

buffalo trace 1

Buffalo Trace is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1792 when “The Old Taylor House” was built on the property and still stands today.

buffalo trace2

Buffalo Trace was featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Col. Blanton. On our tour we heard lots of stories and got to visit the haunted sites as well as the Stony Point Mansion where Col. Blanton died in 1959.

buffalo trace

We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did have a complimentary tasting of some of the Buffalo Trace products and I have to take a second and rave about the Bourbon Cream! This stuff is amazing…it puts Bailey’s to shame…but you can only get it at the distillery…so I bought two!

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Have you been to the Bourbon Trail? What were your favorites?

For more travel posts, click here.

Summer Vacation 2015 – Kentucky Part 2

The third installment in my summer vacation recap is all about Jim Beam. You can read about the first stop in Cleveland and our first day in Kentucky via the links. On our second day in Kentucky we visited the Jim Beam Distillery and boy was John excited.

Jim Beam

We arrived just in time for the tour and the first thing I learned is all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. The U.S. government has a set of regulations that determines exactly what can be called bourbon.

Jim Beam 2

John preparing for our tour!

One fun fact is that bourbon can only be made in the United States. In 1964 Congress declared that bourbon had to be distilled and aged in the United States and it can’t be called Kentucky Straight Bourbon unless it has been distilled and aged in Kentucky for at least two years.

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Another bourbon regulation is that all bourbon must be aged in brand new charred oak barrels. Distilleries can’t recycle the barrels so they are purchased by all sorts of companies to use for scotch, sometimes wine and furniture among other things.

Jim Beam 5

Each bourbon maker has it’s own mash recipe, but to be a bourbon the recipe must consist of 51% corn.

Jim Beam 6

The color in bourbon comes from the barrels. The only thing that can be added to bourbon is water, if anything else like coloring or flavor is added you can’t call it bourbon.

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Now for the fun part, John and I got to clean and imprint our own bottles of Jim Beam Knob Creek! Below is the machine they used to clean, dispense bourbon and label the bottles. When they clean the bottles they have to use the same bourbon that they ultimately fill the bottles with so they don’t alter the flavor in any way.

Jim Beam 8

After they dipped the bottles in wax we each got to put our thumbprints on the top and then they would be down in the gift shop for purchase. I had some fun pictures of this process that got deleted (boo), but here is the bottle right before we put the wax on it:

knob creek

They had quite the collection of special and commemorative bottles on display. One of which was the I Dream of Jeannie decanter. We learned that the bottle on the show was actually designed after this bottle.

I Dream of Jeannie

The tour ended in the tasting room and we each got to pick three things to try.

Jim Beam 9

We had a blast on our tour and I even got a fabulous Jim Beam candle to take home. It was definitely my first stop into becoming a bourbon aficionado.

Jim Beam 10

What Jim Beam variations are your favorites?

For more travel posts, click here.

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