Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Part I, Makers Mark Distillery-June 10

From New Haven we headed out to see our first distillery on "The Bourbon Trail.  It was Joel's 65th birthday and he planned on celebrating a little.

Makers Mark Distillery is a small family run distillery in the heart of Kentucky.  I didn't know much about Whiskey/Bourbon production and what made bourbon, bourbon and what made different bourbons unique. The tour proved to be very informative.  I learned the term whiskey is generic for liquor made with corn, barley, rye or wheat, and that bourbon by law has to be made with at least 51% corn and then the rest barley, rye, or wheat and must be aged in new charred white oak barrels and has to be at least 80 proof. The recipe or mixture of grains, yeast, and the time aged is what gives the individual bourbons its unique taste.  Kentucky bourbon has to be made in Kentucky to be called Kentucky bourbon...dah!

The tour took us into the distillery where the grains are mashed, cooked, yeast added, and then distilled.
The mash as called "beer mash" and has the taste of beer.
Then the yeast is added and is allowed to ferment.  It becomes very bubbly like the picture below.

After about the third day it is sent to the distillery.
Makers Mark uses old cypress vats to ferment the mash in. The vats are over 100 years old. The logo on the wall is the "mark" on all of the Markers Mark bottles.

This is the actual distillery.  The mash is pumped into the containers and heated and the vapours are captured.  The resulting liquid is clear and can run about 160 proof.  It's called white lightening or white dog or moon shine. The liquid is put in new white oak charred barrels for aging like the ones below.  At Makers Mark, one of their bourbons is aged in barrels with additional charred staves (the one on the right) to give the bourbon a darker richer flavor. After the aging the bourbon is tested for alcohol content and pure limestone filtered water is added if necessary to reduce the alcohol content to below 125 proof.

The barrels and then taken to the ware house and stacked in ricks (layers).  Each barrel hold 53 gallons of bourbon.  At Makers Mark the barrels are rotated from top to bottom.  Each distiller ages their bourbon a little differently, which makes each brand unique.  The warehouses of the individual distillery vary from one story to eight stores.
Note the timbers making up the ricks. A rick is a layer of barrels.
Makers Mark prints all of their labels on site.

They also bottle all of their products on site.
After the bourbon is bottled it is hand dipped in wax to seal it.  This is unique to Makers Mark brand. Some bottles are  double dipped for special customer orders.

Some of the finished product coming off the line.
It is boxed and shipped out.
Makers Mark has a very elegant tasting room and we were given the opportunity to taste two of the bourbons to compare them. My pallet is not very educated but I could tell the different between the 10 year old aged bourbon and the 6 year old. Terms like smooth finish, buttery taste, caramel taste were narrated by our tour guide.  I guess as I complete more tours I'll figure out the different tastes of bourbon.
Markers Mark bottles several different bourbons, their Makers 46 being the top and of course most expensive. No, we didn't by a about $50.00 it was a little pricey.
The grounds also house the restored home of the Samuels, who owned the distillery.  Below is the kitchen where Mrs. Samuel helped develop the recipes for Makers Make.  What makes Makers Mark a little different is that red winter wheat is used as one of the ingredients instead of rye, which makes their bourbon a little sweeter.
All of the shutters on the buildings have this motif, which I thought interesting, and all of the buildings including the warehouses are painted brown.

Makers Mark is just one of six Distilleries on the Bourbon Trail.  I've been on many winery tours and touring distillery is much like touring an old winery in Napa Valley. There is lots of tradition and history in each of the distilleries. The architecture  and grounds are  interesting. Most are family owned or family run much like vineyards.  The only difference is that the distilleries do not grow their own grains.

From Makers Mark we headed on to Bardstown, Ky.  There are several distilleries near Bardstown that are part of the Bourbon Trail, which we plan on visiting. With each distillery being a little different, we ought to get quite in education about Bourbon.  After all, Kentucky is the Bourbon Capital of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday, Joel! Or should I say Happy Medicare?