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.

Jim Beam 4

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summer Vacation 2015 – Kentucky Part 1

As you saw in my first vacation recap post, on our way out of Cleveland, John and I got a late start and stopped for a fun lunch. But we were so excited to get on the road and get the heck out of dodge.

road trip

We had to make a pit stop for gas and I couldn’t believe where we randomly stopped…it’s like they knew I was coming!


We finally made it to Kentucky and had to take the obligatory welcome shot:


We didn’t get to our final destination until a little later on so I didn’t have to much to report for the first day. On day three we decided to go to lunch at Mark’s Feed Store.

Marks Feed Store 4

We were a little to late to do any bourbon tastings (most of the places closed at 3 p.m.) so we found a winery instead! We stumbled upon Broad Run Vineyards which was sort of in the middle of nowhere. We were the only people there and spent a few hours getting a one-on-one tutorial with the owner. I think we both learned a lot and I really appreciated the passion the owner had about wine.

broad run Collage

Our hotel, the Embassy Suites in Louisville had a complimentary happy hour every day that we made it back in time for. I tried a Bluegrass Sunrise!

Bluegrass Sunrise

We made dinner reservations at Proof on Main which had a cool, artsy ambiance. The food was great and John was able to get a bourbon flight to kick things off. For dessert they even brought cotton candy to the table for us!

proof on main

We had a great time during our first few days in Kentucky and were pumped to finally start hitting the bourbon trail.

For more travel posts, click here.

Summer Vacation 2015 – Cleveland

John and I finally decided to take a vacation that we had been planning for two years…the Kentucky Bourbon Trail! We originally had planned to visit for one of John’s milestone birthdays, but life happened and it didn’t work out for us. I never forgot about it and planned to make it happen for him for his birthday this year. We decided to make a road trip out of it since we had to make a stop in Cleveland before heading down to Kentucky.

My dad’s birthday is in July and I always get us tickets to go to a Yankees game (we are lifelong fans) and this year they happened to be playing in Cleveland. So I figured we could all meet up for the game and then John and I could continue our trip down to Kentucky.

I must preface my vacation recap by saying that I took some awesome pictures on our trip and then the day after we got home my phone crapped out on me and I lost everything back to February (when I last backed up). I am happy to report that I am backed up to the Cloud now, but those pictures are gone. I had to piece my recaps together with what I had posted on social media and the pictures John took – but just know that I had some really great pictures for you.

We drove down to Cleveland mid-afternoon and checked into our hotel, the Aloft Cleveland which was pretty close to the stadium. Cleveland is a great town to explore – for ideas check out my previous Cleveland trip.

Aloft Cleveland

We headed over to meet up with my dad at Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians play. If you’ve never been it is a fun stadium to go to. Plus I love hearing John Adams play his legendary drum.

Progressive Field Progressive Field 2 Progressive Field 3

I’m going to show you a little before and after picture, because this ended up being a crazy game lasting for 16 innings! You can see in the second picture that nobody is left. I found this article that had some crazy numbers from this game. The final score was 5-4 and the game took five hours and four minutes to play. How weird is that? Even though the Yankees lost it was still a great game to watch and since it was only the second Yankees game we got to attend this year we definitely got our money’s worth!

Yankees 3

The next day before we took off, we stopped for lunch at The Willeyville next to our hotel.

Courtesy of The Willeyville as my photo was lost from the great phone fiasco.
Courtesy of The Willeyville as my photo was lost from the great phone fiasco.

This will forever be remembered as the day I introduced John to a Bloody Mary. I didn’t realize that he hadn’t had one before or else I would have tried before now. He loved mine and ended up getting one for himself.

the willeyville 2

We had a blast and I will tell you more about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in my next post! What are your favorite places in Cleveland?

For more travel posts, click here.

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