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Posted on Oct 15, 2017 in USA | 0 comments

3 Days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Day 2

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Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day 2

If you missed our first two posts, read about our planning here, and then about Day 1 in Louisville.

Behind the scenes: what went wrong

So today didn’t exactly go as planned – too many tours, too little time! The first tours at Heaven Hill are at 10 and 10:30 depending on which one you choose – Piers wanted to do the shorter of the two, and so 10:30 is the first one they offer.

It was a 50-minute drive to Maker’s Mark where he went on the 1 o’clock tour which took about 1 hour 15 minutes. We went straight from there to Four Roses which was 40 minutes away to get there in time for the 3 pm tour. Because that tour is currently only 30 minutes we managed to make it to Wild Turkey Distillery which is just 8 miles away in time for the 4 pm tour – their last tour of the day.

Do you spot the problem? There was no time for lunch! Yes, the only way we could do it all was to go without. So – this is probably not a plan you want to replicate! If you really want to do all the stops on the trail and only have 3 days, you want to do Wild Turkey on the last day.

The commentary about the distilleries is from Piers – the rest is from me (Meryl).

Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center

First up on day two was Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center. They have 2 tours, the cheaper one is actually longer and takes you into a Rickhouse, a barrel storage building. The majority of the tour is the history of Bourbon and Heaven Hill Distillery. At the end, you taste 3 whiskeys. No production or actual making of the bourbon.

The second is the Whiskey Connoisseur Experience. Again a bit of history, but this tour focuses on the tasting of some premium bourbons. You taste 4 bourbons and can take your glass home with you.

Whiskey Connoisseur Experience Heaven Hill

One interesting fact is that one of the reasons for the renaissance of bourbon around the world is that women are drinking more and more of it. This is, in part, because the Master Distillers began to replace rye with wheat in their recipes. Rye adds a spicy taste to the bourbon, whereas wheat makes it more palatable to many taste buds.

The Center has quite a few displays that give the history of bourbon. However, the tour was the least compelling of all the tours I have done. On the other hand, the bourbon that we tasted on the Connoisseur tour was outstanding.

Heaven Hill display

Some of the brands include Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna and Larcency (one of my favorites).

Information
Cost: Mashbill Tour – $10.00, Whiskey Connoisseur Experience – $20.00
Hours: Different hours dependent on the season, see website
Length of tour: Mashbill Tour – 1 hour, Whiskey Connoisseur Experience – 40 minutes
Parking: on site

Maker’s Mark

This was the second stop on day two. So far, by far the most picturesque Stillhouse on the trail. The beauty was enhanced by the display throughout the property of Dale Chihuly’s blown glass artwork.

Glasswork Makers Mark

Bill Samuels the founder set out to make the kind of bourbon he liked, sweeter on the palate. He achieved this by a recipe heavy in corn (70%), no rye and the rest wheat and barley. And it is aged to taste, as opposed to a fixed time period. This usually means about 6 – 7 years in a barrel.

Makers Mark Mash

The other distinctive feature of Maker’s Mark bourbon is the bottle, the brainchild of Marjorie Samuels. The brandy shaped bottle, sealed with red wax helps the product stand out on the shelf.

Makers Mark Bourbon Bottles

The tour was well done, but the number of people on each tour meant that it was a little longer than most.

Information
Cost: $12 for adults over 21
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Sundays: 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Length of tour: 1 1/4 hours
Parking: Onsite

Four Roses Distillery

From Maker’s Mark we sped over to the Four Roses Distillery to get there in time for the last tour in the afternoon (3 pm).

Many people may remember Four Roses as a cheap bourbon. This is because at one stage all the good stuff was exported. However, a few years back a Japanese company bought the distillery and began reviving the brand by producing world-class bourbon again. They have 10 recipes which ultimately produce 3 products. How does that work? Well for two of their products they combine barrels from the different recipes.

Their recipes (mash) are heavy in rye. This results in a more spicy flavor, but I found it very pleasant. Another feature is that their rickhouses are single story, resulting in less temperature variation. Their standard “Four Roses Bourbon” is aged about 6 – 6 ½ years, their “Small Batch” about a year longer and their Single Barrel about another year longer.

We visited while they were in the middle of a major renovation, which meant we couldn’t actually do a full tour (for which I was actually quite thankful). They had a good video explaining what makes their bourbon distinctive, and this was followed by a simple but functional tasting.

Information
Cost: $5
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Length of tour: currently about 30 minutes while there is construction
Parking: on site
** Note – the ticket for this tour allows you free access within 60 days to their Warehouse and Bottling Tour in Cox’s Creek.

Wild Turkey Distillery

Wild Turkey Distillery

Another good thing about the shorter Four Roses tour was that we could make it across to Wild Turkey in time for the last (4 pm) tour. Wild Turkey is one of the larger distillers, producing around 12 million liters of bourbon a year. This requires a very sophisticated process that is highly professional. The tour covers the full bourbon process, but by now, you should have the process down pretty well. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and affable, in the good old Southern tradition.

Their bourbon is high in rye content but aged longer than many of the others. The longer aging smoothes out the spicier flavors from the rye. I really like their product, especially the Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the Russel Reserve 10 Year Old.

Information

Cost: $10
Hours: Different hours dependent on the season, see website
Length of tour: about an hour
Parking: on site

Supper – Ginza Restaurant

We had driven a fair amount and rushed between places so much, that we were happy to discover, Ginza, a Japanese restaurant in walking distance from our Holiday Inn Express in Frankfort. You can have hibachi or sushi – we chose the latter. Their specialty sushis were rather expensive so we just opted for standard rolls. The food was fine, the service a little lacking though.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day 2
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Meryl loves to travel whenever she has the chance. When she isn't traveling she is likely to be teaching or coaching middle and high schoolers. Of course, one of the subjects she teaches is Geography!

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