Kentucky has a “rich history and proud tradition” of crafting the state’s signature spirit. “It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task,” according to Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s website.
“They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.
“Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honored tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestors centuries before.”
|Monster warehouses dominate the landscape in ‘Bourbon Country’ (Julianne G. Crane)|
The importance of the Bourbon industry is clearly obvious when driving through this part of Kentucky. Ominous monolithic warehouses dominate much of the landscape.
|RVer Jimmy Smith walking among the “spirits.” (Julianne G. Crane)|
These huge warehouses store the aging ‘spirits’ that have helped create “9,000 jobs, generate more than $125 million in tax revenue each year, and is a growing international symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition.” Learn more by clicking
on: Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s web site.
|The process begins. (Julianne G. Crane)|
In 1999, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour was formed to give visitors a firsthand look at “the art and science of crafting Bourbon.” Nine distilleries, seven of which are within 35 miles of Lexington, dot the Bourbon Tour.
Bourbon tourism has skyrocketed since then, with nearly 2.5 million visitors to the Bourbon tour in the last five years alone, according to industry folks. We were two of those millions when we drove the windy back-country roads to the Maker’s Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark that is nestled in Loretto, Kentucky, in the rolling hills of Marion County.
|Maker’s Mark Visitors Center (Julianne G. Crane)|
Maker’s Mark Distillery
3350 Burkes Spring Road
Loretto, Kentucky 40037
Tour: $9 for adults (helps defray the cost of the tasting samples for those of legal drinking age)
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday (March through December) — 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Grab a bite to eat at the Tollhouse Cafe.
During the winter months, it is highly recommended that visitors call the distilleries you plan on visiting before heading out to double check that they are open.
(Photos: by Julianne G. Crane)