In case you missed my first post, or aren't familiar with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (bless your heart!), here's a little info:
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (KBT) was formed in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers' Association to give people an up-close view of bourbon-crafting. There are nine major stops on the KBT, and if you pick up a Passport at your first stop and get a stamp at each of the nine distilleries, you can then get a really cool free KBT t-shirt! (They also have a Craft Distillery Tour with eight stops. If you pick up a Passport for this tour, and get a stamp at each of the eight distilleries, you can then get a free julep cup!)
Back in late May/early June, Gus, Buddy, and I met up with Lulu and Bart in Lexington with plans to tour a few more bourbon distilleries. Unfortunately, I managed to get food poisoning on our first night there, so they had to go on tours the next day without me. But they did take pictures, so I'll be able to do a post about them (or Gus will do a guest post). Luckily, I was feeling a bit better the next day, so we ventured out to Maker's Mark, which is located in Loretto, KY, about 70 miles southeast of Lexington.
As with most of the other distilleries we've visited, Maker's Mark is pretty much in the middle of nowhere - but the scenery is gorgeous. And the buildings and grounds are beautiful.
The distillery tour takes about an hour, and costs $9 per person. They also offer a couple of other types of tours that are longer and more expensive. I believe they are 21 and older only and you need reservations. We did the 1 hour tour, and in my opinion, it was just the right amount of walking.
At Maker's Mark, all of the labels are printed on a manual printing press by one person. This person also hand-cuts these labels. She was at lunch when our tour went through so we didn't get to see her in action, but everyone got to take several labels with them.
We also had a tasting, and were offered samples of the Maker's™ White, Maker's Mark® Fully Matured, Maker's 46®, and Maker's Mark® Cask Strength™. My favorite was the Maker's 46®. Gus has noticed that I tend to like the more expensive bourbons. I'm sure this doesn't surprise him.
And here are three things that I think put Maker's a little above the other distilleries we've visited so far:
3) "The Spirit of the Maker" - In the barrel room, there is a 36'x6' canopy of 750 hand-blown Chihuly glasswork elements in blue, green, amber, & Maker's Mark red. Simply stunning. This photo is just a small section of it, and doesn't do it justice:
2) If you're over 21, you can pretty much dip anything in the gift shop in the signature red Maker's wax (except paper). There is no fee to dip the items in the wax, you just need to purchase the item first. You can also buy items that have already been dipped, but what's the fun in that?
And the cherry on top of the bourbon slush...
1) You can become a Maker's Mark Ambassador. What does that mean? Just the most awesome thing ever.
You sign up for free, and your name is engraved on the barrel plate of a barrel of bourbon. When that barrel matures in 6-8 years, you will be notified, and you have the option to buy up to 3 bottles of bourbon from that barrel. Your bottles will have personalized labels as well. And while you're waiting for your barrel to mature, they send you free gifts from time to time! As I mentioned, signing up is free - and you're under no obligation to buy the bourbon when it matures. All five of us signed up, and we're all on the same barrel, so we will be purchasing many bottles from that barrel when it matures in 2021-2023! Unfortunately, the barrel plate isn't ready for our barrel or I would show you a picture. I can't wait to see all of our names engraved on it!
And that's the end of our tour at Maker's Mark distillery! I highly recommend it if you're ever in the Lexington-Louisville area of Kentucky. And you can sign up to be an ambassador online - you don't have to visit the distillery - so be sure to do that. What a fun gift that would be for the bourbon lover in your life!
Have you ever been to Maker's Mark Distillery?
What's your favorite bourbon?
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