Monday, October 14, 2013

In Search of Bourbon - Day 3

Woo-hoo! Day Three was Bourbon Day! We went "in search of bourbon" and we found it on Saturday. We headed to breakfast at 7:30 and found the room jam-packed. To be fair to the hotel, it was a small breakfast room. I scored the last bagel (sorry, Shane!), some OJ, and a hot tea. We ate breakfast quickly - in part to get on the road sooner, but also because it was quite crowded for such a small room.

Once the bikes were packed and we were geared up, we headed out to our first distillery stop for the day - Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, KY. It took us about 40 minutes to get there.

It was a lovely and warm Saturday morning in Kentucky.

Horses in Kentucky? No!

Y'all know by now that I love me some barns!

And little country churches...don't forget those!

A barn full of drying tobacco...these were a common sight.

Shane and Andrea

When we arrived, I headed for the tent set up outside to inquire about a 9 AM tour. (There was conflicting information on their website, in their brochure, and on their gates.) It turns out that they normally do conduct 9 AM tours, but a private tour had been scheduled, so the first public tour wasn't going to happen until 10 AM. Well that was a buzzkill; it would throw off our entire day's plans. Luckily, enough people had showed up first thing that morning that they relented and conducted a public 9 AM tour AND a private one. SCORE! Before the tour began, I snagged a few pictures.

The driveway that leads to the distillery.

See? This says tours start at 10 on Saturdays. The guard told me it needs to be updated!

The landscaping was beautiful. It turns out they have a full time horticulturalist on staff (I asked).

This buffalo was meant to be life-sized. It seemed on the small side.

The distillery got national historic landmark designation in 2013.

More of the grounds.

One of the warehouses...the smell was wonderful!

Barrels and barrels of deliciousness!

More landscaping.

Our tour guide was Coy and he took us to several different buildings on the distillery grounds while explaining that several brands of bourbon are made on site, including Buffalo Trace (naturally), Eagle Rare (a personal favorite in our house!), Pappy Van Winkle, and Blanton's. Our tour began in Warehouse D where we watched a short video that provided us with the history of the Buffalo Trace distillery and a little bit about the bourbon making process. Coy then led us through a secret bookcase into the main part of the warehouse.

A little bit about Warehouse D.

A very old still.

Through the secret bookcase...

...and into the warehouse where the smell was magnificent.
(Some might say it was intoxicating.)

Barrels and barrels of bourbon.

Shane looks menacing as he stands on a barrel-turning plate.

Experimental bourbon? Yes, please. If they like what they taste, these experimental varieties are sold in small batches.

Old school bung cutter.

Barrels of different sizes for more experimenting.

Next we went into the Blanton Bottling Building where we saw Blanton's Bourbon being bottled and boxed for shipping. 

A little bit about the Blanton Bottling Building.

The bottling line...all done by hand!

Bottle, wax, wrap, box, ship!

The many varieties of bourbon bottled at Buffalo Trace.

More of the bottling operation.

Blanton's Bourbon is capped with different horses - one for each letter in B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S. Each horse is in a different stage of a race. Collect them all!

More of the bottling operation.

Award-winning bourbon and an award-winning distillery!

Coming soon to a liquor/state store near you!

Like any good tour (or Disney ride), it ended in the gift shop. Well, I guess technically it ended in the tasting room, which was conveniently attached to the gift shop.

The sole reason I wanted to visit Buffalo Trace - Bourbon Cream!

It is only available at the distillery.

It tastes so nice, I bought it twice!

Coy pours samples for the tour group.

Seriously, y'all. Buffalo Trace's Bourbon Cream is the shiznit!!! Mixed with root beer...phenomenal. Over ice cream or in a milkshake...stupendous. On the rocks...perfection. The bourbon cream was the only thing I tasted...and I pretty much elbowed my way to the bar to be the first to get a sample (even though I already knew I loved it...Chris brought home a bottle four years ago when he visited the distillery). After we bought our bottles, I stepped outside to snag a few more pictures.

A little bit about Warehouse V.

Warehouse V.

The 6,000,000th barrel was filled in May 2008.

When will they hit 7,000,000 barrels? That's up to you and me!

Through these doors you'll find Buffalo Trace apparel, tchotchkes, and BOURBON CREAM.

It turns out that the private tour that was scheduled for 9 AM was for a car club from Michigan - a car club of old Bentleys and Rolls Royces!

This one was a right-hand drive!

With our Buffalo Trace visit completed, it was time to get on the road for our next destination - Wild Turkey. Of the three distilleries we visited that day, I think Wild Turkey was the least favorite for all of us. It's not that the tour was bad, because it wasn't. In fact, it was as informative as the others. I can't really put my finger on what was "wrong" with the tour at Wild Turkey; I just know it was my least favorite of the day and I probably would not go back.

Oh, the traffic you encounter ON THE INTERSTATE in Kentucky!

Welcome Home to Wild Turkey!

We made it to Distillery #2.

Talk about wild turkeys!
(This might be the single best picture of the entire trip!)

I may not have enjoyed the tour very much, but I sure do love Wild Turkey's American Honey!

Andrea looks pretty good in this Wild Turkey straw hat!

This turkey was enormous!

Waiting for the tour to start.

Boarding the bus for the tour.

Off we go!

Arriving at the distillery. The turkey's name is Rex. He's three stories tall and they claim he's the most photographed turkey in the world. 

Grain storage outside of the distillery.

Gee...Chris looks thrilled to hold the door for me, LOL!

I like these two holiday advertisements for Wild Turkey.

One of the cooker tubs.

The Dona Tub.
Dona is Portuguese for "mother" - this is the yeast tub.

Our tour guide shows us the grains that go into Wild Turkey Bourbon - all organic, non-GMO grains.


That's a lot of gallons!!!

All of Wild Turkey's products/brands.

Group shot at Wild Turkey!

A little bit about the Control Room...

...and the actual control room.

Learning about Low Wine and High Wine. 
The testing room. Tough job, eh? Testing bourbon blends for a living.

At the tasting bar. I sampled the single barrel bourbon and the new spiced bourbon. And by "sampled" I mean took the teeniest, tiniest sip...probably two or three eye-dropper drops worth. 

After visiting Wild Turkey, we decided that we a) needed petrol and b) needed lunch. We stopped for gas at a combined gas station and country cafe. I went inside to see what was on the menu and when it didn't appeal to our crew, I found out that there were several places to eat a few miles down the road in Springfield. It was a pretty ride from Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg to Maker's Mark in Loretto.

We arrived at Maker's Mark just in time for the 3 PM tour. Maker's Mark is like the Disney World of Bourbon Distilleries - everything is themed "just so" with uniform paint (dark brown and Maker's Mark Wax Red), bourbon bottles in the shutters, and pretty signs. 

Arriving at Maker's Mark in Loretto, KY.
The grounds at Maker's Mark.

Whisky Creek runs through the property.

The Bourbon Tour Gang!

We've got our tickets for the tour!

Oh, Shane!

Tour and tasting...hooray!

More of the grounds.

An original depot building on the property.

The original grist mill.

Heading into the distillery.

The 1954 time capsule contained a bottle of bourbon, a photograph of the employees, and a letter from the CEO to his son. The 2004 time capsule contains the same, plus a few unknowns.

The BEAUTIFUL copper stills.

The tour guide specifically told Shane not to touch the copper stills. It's like she knew him!

Fermenting mash! We got to stick our fingers into the mash and taste it. It was sweet and "corny."

The machine where all Maker's Mark bottle labels are printed.

The dark brown, the "Wax Red," and the bottles in the shutters.

More scenery on the property.

Listening to our tour guide.

Barrels and barrels of yumminess!

Row #29...what-what!!!
(Because 29 is my favorite number.)

The bottling line...mostly automated...except the wax dipping...that's still done by hand.

Some examples of Maker's Mark advertising.

This one was my favorite.

In the tasting room!

Awesome photo bomb by Andrea!

L to R: Maker's White, Maker's Mark, Maker's Mark (over matured), and Maker's 46.

Nosing Maker's 46...

...and tasting it!

This bottle belongs to Maker's Mark Ambassador Mark Alloway.
He got to cut and apply his label and dip his own bottle, which came from his barrel.
Chris and my brother are Ambassadors; their barrels should come up in 2-3 more years.

We purchased some souvenir t-shirts and then returned to our bikes to gear up and head to Somerset, KY for the evening. While we were getting our jackets and helmets on, a large sport-touring group showed up. We gave them all a wave as we departed. The guys planned a really nice route from Loretto to Somerset via KY 49, US 127, KY 910, and KY 80.

Leaving the Maker's Mark Distillery.

We arrived in Somerset at the Best Western Mid-Town Inn and Suites. We got checked in and headed to our rooms to get cleaned up for dinner. When we got to our room, we spied these Harley riders arrive and unload. For three guys on three bikes, they DEFINITELY had more bags than four people on two bikes. Once we got cleaned up, we headed to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner.

Three guys packed more than two chicks. Sad.

Shane and Chris waiting for Andrea, who made new friends in the elevator.
Here, Shane reacts to finding out this new friends will soon be his house guests. (Not really.)

The boys didn't want to face each other.

Chris' Angry Orchard Cider...I like the label!

My "Ruby Relaxer."

Two little piggies sleeping outside of the entrance to the hotel.

Since Sunday was going to be a long day, we decided to meet for breakfast at 6:30 the next morning. We headed up to our rooms and I think we were all in bed by 10. Day Three was complete. It was a short day mileage-wise (167), but it was long on bourbon knowledge. (Total mileage to through Day 3 = 965.)

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