Monday, June 15, 2015

Almost Everything You Need to Know to Travel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail– Part II

A 3 day journey to 9 distilleries


For DAY ONE (click here)
Maker's Mark in Loretto, KY
Whisky the Cat
    After a generous and delicious breakfast, we drove a short 3 miles to Maker's Mark.  I had prepaid for our tour tickets online, which allows you a reservation for the day with a time given when you arrive.  (This is available at some of the busier distilleries.)  Their visitor center is in a house filled with southern charm and residence to Whisky the cat.  From there, the tours take off to the distillery house for a short education on how the bourbon is made.  
Getting Ready to Taste the Different Stages of Bourbon Making
Tasting the different stages of the brew was both enlightening and a scene right out of a kid in a candy store with his hand in the jar.  It was a personal touch full of memories.  The bottling house was not in operation on a Saturday, but the years of advertising displayed along the interior wall explained just how lofty the Maker's Mark brand is in the distillery world.  
Chihuly Ceiling at Maker's Mark
Tasting encountered four samples after which there was a walk through the warehouse lined with a Chihuly ceiling leading to complimentary bourbon chocolates and the gift shop.  Holy Bourbon, what a gift store it was!!  There's every 
Dipping a Personal Bottle
branded tidbit that one could imagine, topped off by the opportunity to dip your own bottle of Maker's Mark in their signature red wax. You won't be able to resist.

Bourbon Hertiage Center at Heaven Hill
     Heaven Hill is near Bardstown and consisted of a short stop at their gift shop and a walk through the museum touted by the name on the building, Bourbon Heritage Center.  A short drive to downtown Bardstown put us at Mammy's Kitchen for lunch.  It's a southern diner full of surprises and tasty food (click here).  

Jim Beam Visitor Center
     Our last stop that day was about 35 minutes to the north -- Jim Beam.  We had planned on taking the tour, but as luck would have it, the tours sold our for the day literally a handful of people in front of us.  But Jim Beam had a great idea–tastings to those who could not get on the tour.  That was 
Dispensing Jim Beam Samples
perfect for us!  The tasting center was a short walk from the visitor center and gift store.  Each of us was given a plastic card for two pours each.  Dispensers were throughout the center with descriptions of their different varieties.  We wanted to sample the flavored ones–Black Cherry, Maple and Honey.  Just insert the card, press your choice of bourbon and a perfect pour goes in the glass.  Jim Beam is located across from the Blenheim Forest and Arboretum containing outdoor sculptures and beautiful plant specimens. 


Bulleit Gift Store
with Bourbon Bottle Chandelier
     After breakfast and saying goodbye to Lisa Marie and Rudy James, we wound our way through some small towns and rolling country on our way to I-65 that would eventually get us to Bulliet on the west side of Louisville.  It's in an urban setting so it comes with a security gate that is manned by longtime employees.  Ours couldn't have been happier doing what he does and greeting us!  Bulleit is new to the tour, 
Tom Bulleit's Presidential Office
even though it is the oldest of the brands, with the visitor center located in one of the original buildings that has been restored to show off their president's office, history and tasting 
Bulleit Cooperage
room.  A cooperage (barrel making) was open in an adjacent building.  There was no one there, but one could imagine the workings from the displays.  Bulliet will be moving in the next few years to a brand new distillery in Shelbyville.  I hope they can maintain some of the historical aspects, but that seems impossible without its current surroundings. 

John Evans Headquarters on Main Street in Louisville
     Downtown Louisville would be our last stop at the Evan Williams building on Main Street.  We were a little early for their 1PM Sunday opening time as the line formed outside 
The Huge Pour at the
Evan Williams Entrance
and into the street.  The Evan Williams Experience takes a Disney approach to its tour, making it a popular one.  It would only be a quick visit to the gift store on the second floor for us.  A stamp to our passport and we were on our way to the Louisville Visitors Center a couple of blocks away to receive our official 2015 Kentucky Bourbon Trail t-shirt for our devotion over the past 3 days!  From there, lunch beckoned at Havana Rumba (click here), our favorite Louisville restaurant.  

Happy (Bourbon) Trails…to you!

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