Maker’s Mark: A Kentucky Tradition
VJ and I were ready to stir up some trouble when we traveled south for a wedding this past weekend. And what better way to stir up trouble than to hit the bourbon trail.
My partner in crime: VJ
OK, we didn’t do the trail but we did make our way to Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. And it was everything I hoped it would be: charming, classic and good enough to eat (or drink in this case).
We started out in a little building where the tour group gathers – nothing fancy but definitely special. The little rooms all had the 1950s vibe, with a vintage kitchen and knick knacks – most of which were dipped in the infamous red wax. And talking pictures. That was humorous. But then we were off!
Like I said, incredibly charming. The buildings were all inviting, the landscape was beautiful. I especially loved the red wooden shutters with a bottle cut out. You usually see this with hearts or something like that in this area. That means the Samuels family has quite the since of humor. Love it.
We started off here – where the mashers live. Our tour guide explained the entire process of making their blend of whiskey bourbon. She lost me about three sentences in. But the one thing I caught (and found the most interesting) is that the only additive used in Maker’s Mark is limestone water. That’s it. The rest is grain and corn and whatever else they stick in there. Limestone water. Which is in abundance in this area of the country and why so many whiskey makers built distilleries here. And you thought Kentucky was just about horses.
The mark you see stamped on every bottle was thought up by the brains in the family: Mrs. Samuels. She actually did all of the packaging, including the red wax. Smart lady. The “S” stands for Samuels and “IV” was the 4th generation. The star has something to do with the name of the farm… like I said, I don’t soak in all the info. I’m far to busy skirting around people to set up shots. I’m sure at least 10 people in our group thought I was a nut.
Then on to bottling. Which wasn’t cool because they aren’t bottling right now. Though Maker’s Mark is the oldest and one of the smallest distilleries in the world, they complete every step of the bourbon making process – from brewing to mashing to bottling to shipping – all in Loretto, Kentucky. Cool, huh? All of that goodness coming from a town with one stop light. Whodathunk.
And then on to the barrels. I could have easily spent an hour in this building by myself just snapping away. But I couldn’t. And I had to share my experience with something like 30 other people. All strangers, except for VJ. The barrels were stacked high and apparently this is where the magic happens. Where the bourbon takes on that caramel color and that rich flavor we all love. Mmm.
Finally, we taste test. Not really much of a test for me as we usually have a bottle of Maker’s around the house. It is my DAd’s choice of bourbon and the hubs enjoy it but he tends to be a fan of all things bourbon and bounces around on the brands. And though whiskey tends to be less expensive in Kentucky (because it’s made here) I do not use Maker’s in my bourbon balls – that’s a waste of good liquor.
Anywho, two tastes: the original Maker’s we’re all familiar with and then “white dog”. If memory serves, white dog is what the whiskey looks like before it goes in the barrel. Not much flavor, smelled like yeast, but was still smooth.
It was a nice detour and I’d probably do it again. If you’re ever in the area and looking to learn more about how this delicious libation is made, check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail website. Or if you’re ever around Bardstown, Kentucky, there’s a handful to choose from. Be sure to put Maker’s on the list.Maker’s Mark Distillery Star Hill Farm Loretto, Kentucky USA www.MakersMark.com