Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wild Turkey

Before I hit the Bourbon Trail Wild Turkey was my bourbon of choice. Of course, I never imbibed it straight. No matter, even after my trip, I still like it for egg nog and to make vanilla-infused bourbon. Being such a Wild Turkey fan we had to visit the distillery. On this tour we got to see large vats of sour mash as well as one of the numerous rickhouses. For the tasting we could also pick our poisons. The most serendipitous image was actually seeing real wild turkeys roaming near the property (no photos, unfortunately).

Since most of the offerings, including Russell's Reserve can be purchased here in Virginia, we tasted but held off on buying.

Take a gander at some photos:

Wild Turkey has a good branding presence at their distillery
Gift shop offerings
Large vats
Capturing high and low wine
Aging Barrels
Rickhouse Interior

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heaven Hill Distillery

Heaven Hill Distillery was the largest bourbon producer we visited. Their metal corrugated rickhouses stretched for miles. The smaller ones held 20,000 barrels. They were in the process of building new rickhouses that could hold up to 50,000 barrels. Whew!

Heaven Hill produces Evan Williams, Larceny (one of hubby's favorites), along with a myriad of others. This tour featured one of the rickhouses and a tasting of both Evan Williams and Elijah Craig in a barrel-shaped tasting room.

A note on tastings in Kentucky (well in wet counties in Kentucky). You can basically taste 1/2 an ounce. Each distillery will have one bourbon in particular that they want you to taste (sometimes it's the only one to taste) and then most will have you taste a second (some their choice, some yours - every place is different). In order to taste more (at least in Bardstown) you have to patronize the Kentucky Bourbon House for flights (highly recommended if you are walking back to your home away from home) or settle in at any restaurant for the upwards of 90+ offerings at the bar.

For this tasting we were given two offerings. The only thing I did not like about the tasting was the tour guide telling the group to add a few drops of water BEFORE tasting the bourbon. I get the role of water in tamping down the alcohol level and smoothing out potential harshness, but I want to taste the straight stuff first and then decide if water is needed (water was needed in this case).

As usual there were photo opportunities:

DSC_0071 (2)
Heaven Hill
DSC_0064 (2)
Barrels in the Rickhouse
DSC_0032 (2)
No Bull
Evan Williams
Little Brown Jug
DSC_0077 (2)
Tasting Room
DSC_0075 (2)
Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Barton 1792 Distillery Pictorial

Only a handful of distilleries make a vast amount of bourbon. Before prohibition there were hundreds of bourbon producing operations. Even through there are only a few and Kentucky Straight Bourbon needs to be made in a certain way, within those set parameters, distilleries experiment and come up with unique tastes. And in Barton's case they use their highly mechanized bottling line to bottle and package a wide variety of spirits as well.

The Barton 1792 bourbon was nothing to get mad at, but we did not purchase any. If one enters the town of Bardstown from the southwest, the Barton rickhouses come into view. These rickhouses we discovered were unique being painted black with red-sashed windows. Barton is also a union shop. The column still was very tall and we were fascinated by the bottling line.

Pictorial highlights:

DSC_0004 (3)
Rickhouses store barrels of bourbon for aging
DSC_0013 (3)
Bourbon-processing facility
DSC_0023 (3)
Column still
1792 Bourbon
DSC_0036 (3)
Rickhouses usually hold about 20,000 barrels
DSC_0086 (3)
Bottling plant
DSC_0101 (2)
Boxes of New Amsterdam vodka ready to be shipped
DSC_0098 (2)
Visitor Center

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mammoth Cave

Way back in September hubby and I ventured west to Kentucky. We stopped at Mammoth Cave and then hit the Bourbon Trail before ending our journey in West Virginia. A fun trip. We marveled and learned a lot.

Mammoth Cave is truly wondrous and has earned its big moniker. Spelunkers have mapped over 400 miles of the cave and they have not finished. The National Park offers two hour cave tours to see some of the highlights. They also offer a caving tour that takes all day for you adventurous types who don't get claustrophobia. But the park offers hiking trails on the surface, too, as well as campsites, a hotel, and restaurant. Good thing. While Cave City sits just outside of the park it's only an accumulation of has-been tourist traps that can be scary-looking during the off season.

For eats you can bring items in yourself if you are camping or take the risk and eat at the only restaurant around called the Travertine. The Travertine featured down-home fare and fried their chicken in a cast iron skillet (we discovered that most family restaurants in Kentucky do this).  We enjoyed the biscuits with cherry preserves. The chicken was decent. The sides, canned. Avoid the burgers. The cherry ice cream was a nice treat. The waitstaff was where the risk ensued. We ate here twice. The first night our blond waitress was the shining example of graciousness and service. On the second night our brunette waitress was the polar opposite and did not want to be there. We tipped accordingly. Also, the county is "moist" meaning beer (Bud and Bud Light) and wine (only Kentucky wine) was offered (but not on a Sunday). We had traveled beyond the borders of bourbon country.

But we were there for the nature, not the food and drink (drink would come later). I'll leave you with a few photos.

What we came to Mammoth Cave to see
The 2 hour walking tour was fairly fast-paced. Taking photos turned out to be a challenge.
Orange-toned lights dominated the rock formations
The historical entrance to the cave
Moss on Trunk
We experienced excellent fall weather as we hiked through the forest trails
Green River 5
The Green River
A two car ferry carried travelers across the Green River
One reason not to drive at night. Deer were out in force (as well as wild turkeys)
Biscuits and Cherry Preserves
Biscuits with Cherry Preserves
Fried Chicken, Green Beans, and Mashed Potatoes
Iron Skillet Fried Chicken
Cherry Ice Cream
Cherry Ice Cream
Morning View 2
Morning View
As we headed out for Bourbon Country we decided to skip Dinosaur World