We visited Makers Mark in Loretto, KY. A storied bourbon distillery full of history, interesting tales of bourbon and family, and grounds that are story book perfect.
You can get there several ways, KY highway 52 takes you there from Loretto, but if you want a little adventure find Makers Mark Road off HWY 152 and wind through the surrounding valley and farmland on a one lane road. Be ready to pull into the ditch or find a pull out to make room for hay trucks, tractors and working locals wishing you had taken the highway!
The Samuels Family had been making "Shine" for over a hundred years - and it was reputedly awful. Bill Sr. and his wife Margie set out to change that and disrupted the industry in 1954 and began what we know today as the iconic bourbon, bottle, label and dip.
A worthwhile walking tour takes you through all the buildings and processes, from silos of wheats and grains to the trucks rolling out full of flavor.
Margie, who had a chemistry background and had a far greater impact on the product than some may imagine a woman in a mans industry in the 1950's may have had, also designed much of what we recognize today.
The bottle shape, the still used hand printed label and the iconic dip were some of her brand shaping ideas.
A sizable portion of the tour covered the barrel. Local companies buy the local lumber raw, mill it locally, create the barrels in cooperage shops around Loretto and deliver them to the distillery. This is truly a community minded company and effort.
Aged for years, the barrels are still hand rolled from the hotter upper storage floors to the cooler cellar for consistency.
Some barrels have "flavored" oak boards inserted for the last few years to create unique tastes.
You can come work with them and create your own unique barrel and taste!