There are at least 33 distilleries in Kentucky, responsible for 95% of the bourbon produced in the U.S. And, bourbon can only be produced in the U.S. and must be 51% corn, stored at a maximum of 62.5% alcohol (125 proof).
Today we take in three more distilleries and tastings with a Mint Julep Tour. Our terrific guide Wendy and driver Don showed us more of the beautiful Kentucky countryside and filled us in on a bit of the history and happenings in Louisville as well as the fast-growing distillery industry.
We began the day about an hour out of Louisville at the Makers Mark Distillery. What a beautiful setting. As an incredible bonus – the Dale Chihuly glass installations that will be in place until the end of October 2017. The appearance of this property was a definite favorite. I loved the storybook-style architecture with the bright red shutters and their liquor bottle cutouts. This site is too beautiful to miss on any bourbon tour.
At Makers, we had the chance to dip our own bottle in their famous red sealing wax, and so I did.
After lunch, we circled back to the cute town of Bardstown to stop at Heaven Hill and the Bourbon Heritage Center for a look and tasting. Probably most famous for Elijah Craig bourbons and their new product Larceny, this property is not the distilling site, which is located in Louisville. I was not a fan of these bourbons but did purchase some yummy Evan Williams bourbon-infused chocolate sauce. Chocolate in any form goes very well with bourbon and each distillery has offered a delicious chocolate candy with their tasting.
At the end of the day, we hit the Jim Beam facility – distillers of my favorites – Knob Creek and Basil Hayden. This is one huge commercial enterprise and I had the opportunity to place my personal bottle of Knob Creek on the production line and seal the black wax with my thumbprint. A final touch was engraving the bottle with a commemorative message – a perfect souvenir (and one I can drink!)
It was a long, but fascinating day topped off by sharing a famous Hot Brown (turkey, toast, bacon and Mornay sauce, better than you can imagine) back at The Brown Hotel.
Favorite Fact: Margie Samuels named Makers Mark, designed the bottle, logo and the red wax tradition. A master marketer, she was the wife of Bill Samuels, Sr who created the Maker’s recipe. She played a major role in the success of the company, significantly at a time when women generally had no role or place in the industry.
Mint Julep Tours: www.mintjuleptours.com
Makers Mark: www.makersmark.com
Heaven Hill: www.heavenhill.com
Jim Beam: www.jimbeam.com
Bourbon Trail: www.kyboubontrail.com