Next stop: Lebanon, Kentucky. It is south of Lexington and Louisville, very rural! Our “campground” was a parking spot beside the horse racetrack at the fairgrounds. This was not really one of our favourite campgrounds, but it was cheap, they offered full hookups and was about 15 km away from Makers Mark Distillery. Since we were only going to spend one day on the Bourbon Trail and our bourbon of choice is Makers Mark, we figured it was a good starting point.
The weather was not 100% co-operating, with high winds and low temperatures it was not going to be a nice motorcycle ride. However, not only was the weather not co-operating, but somewhere over the last 2 weeks with all the bouncing along the roads something let go where the shifter goes into the transmission on Larry’s bike. So, with only 1st gear we left it in the trailer and planned to get it fixed once we get back to Canada. So, with only one motorcycle, and the mercury not forecast to get higher than 8C, it was time to make other plans and rent a car. Luckily there was an Enterprise within a 30 min walk!
With June as the designated driver and Larry as the designated drinker, off we went. First stop: Makers Mark Distillery outside Loretto, Kentucky. The estate is an impressive farm, that takes up the whole valley with the old buildings along the creek very well preserved, so we headed down and did a tasting.
Unfortunately the feeling here was not a warm and fuzzy one. Sure you got that from the bourbon, but the service and vibe was very impersonal. What was cool was, that in the gift shop you could purchase a bottle of bourbon and wax dip their signature seal yourself. So, of course we purchased a small bottle of Makers White and hand dipped the wax onto it. The “insurance” precautions of putting on the apron, gloves and goggles took longer then the actual act of waxing, but it was fun!
We then drove 80 kilometers through the countryside to our next distillery which was Buffalo Trace, it is situated along the Kentucky River in Frankfort, KY. The distillery can be traced back to 1771 and is on the National Historic Landmark list. Our experience here was a much better one with a free tasting and then we had a nice chat with our server. Their signature Buffalo Trace was a very nice bourbon and their Eagle Rare even nicer. They even make a Bourbon Cream that tastes like a bourbon milkshake. So with a bottle of cream and a box of some very yummy bourbon chocolates in our hands we were on our way to our next stop.
Our third and final distillery was Woodford Reserve Distillery. To get to the distillery the road took us through some of the huge horse farms in the Lexington Kentucky countryside. We pulled up to Woodford just in time for their last tasting session. Here we tasted their signature Woodford Reserve, as well as a double oaked bourbon and then a rye whiskey. The Reserve was a nice sipping bourbon but the rye can’t compete with some of our own excellent Canadian ryes.
With a warm glow in Larry’s stomach it was time to call it a day. Driving around this area was absolutely gorgeous with the limestone cliffs that are so important to the purification of the water from the Kentucky River that is used to make the bourbon.
The purple blossoms on the trees along the roadside and the rolling green hills lined with white fences of the massive horse farms were gorgeous!!.