The Mark of a Maker

6AM comes early after a holiday weekend! It’s back to the grind for me… Oh wait… No it’s not. I quit my job to avoid that! 🙂

Another day on the road, another day with Lincoln stuff. This guy just doesn’t quit! I’d like to say it’ll be the last day of Lincoln but that would be a lie since I plan on spending a day in Washington DC. You’ve got the Lincoln Memorial and Ford’s Theatre there.

I think I’m working backwards though. I started in Springfield, IL where he lived before his presidency. Then made my way to Indiana for his boyhood home – the teenage years, essentially. And yesterday, I did the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. If I’m being brutally honest… there’s not much to it. I watched a 15 minute video in the visitor’s center, mainly with information I’ve gotten at one of the other Lincoln sites along the way. I went by the memorial building that was built around a cabin believed to have been Abraham Lincoln’s family’s cabin when he was born. And I went by the sinking spring, for which the property was named back in Lincoln’s time. I also documented the dullness for you!

The cabin is a legit cabin. But in talking to the ranger, it’s not actually Lincoln’s. The History Channel was doing a special on the myths of Lincoln and paid to have the cabin dated. So a team from the University of Tennessee came up to test it and put the logs in it to around 1840’s I believe. It’d be hard for Lincoln to be born in that… seeing as how he was born in 1809. So now, the park service just calls it a “symbolic cabin” to represent what something would look like around the time he was born. They still get points for it being a legit old cabin though.

And there’s this huge, elaborate memorial built around it. It’s all a little excessive when you realize it was built around a cabin for a President that had been assassinated. But that also goes to show the magnitude of the event at the time. Especially with no 24-hour news service or instant way of receiving news.

I also got a few pictures of the sinking springs, which were Lincoln’s family’s water supply when they lived here. But it’s a hole in the ground. And you’ve all seen holes in the ground before.

I also went to Knob Creek, where Lincoln spent his childhood. They moved there when he was two. And according to the Knob Creek bourbon website, that’s where they got their name from. Sorry Stephen. There’s nothing on the website indicating that they give tours of the distillery. Otherwise you’d be getting a present. Sucks for you.

The Knob Creek, which doesn’t taste like the Knob Creek bourbon. Trust me.

I’m just kidding. I don’t drink. So I have no idea if the creek water really tasted like bourbon.

(I didn’t really drink the creek water…)

Speaking of not drinking… guess who toured the Maker’s Mark distillery? This kid! I hadn’t really planned on it but it was in the area and it kind of piqued my interest since I know my dad and brother both drink it. So why not?

I’m here to tell you that it was amazing. It’s so cool to see the only place in the world where something is made. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere, Kentucky (Loretto if you’re looking for it yourself) settled almost like a little farm in the rolling hills. They only have one rollermill to prepare their grain. One. Ever. If it breaks, entire production stops. Just crazy to think of that. It’s cool how superstitious and how close liquor and alcohol makers stick to their recipes. Like the guide said, they could have a plant with 30 rollermills and keep every one of them running to crank out as much Maker’s Mark as they wanted. But they like how that one works. So they only have one.

We saw the mash tubs (where the term “sour mash” comes from). Again, too cool. The guide said every drop of Maker’s Mark ever sold in a store anywhere goes through one of those two tubs. From there, it goes into huge vats to ferment.

Funny story here. I got to the distillery early, so I was kind of hanging around outside just looking around when I struck up conversation with the guy handing out tickets. He was a big Louisville fan so we talked college football for a few minutes. Fast forward about 30 minutes and this guy ends up being the tour guide. Fast forward another few minutes into the fermentation room and I hear

“Where’s my Clemson guy?”

Umm… right here.

“You’re going to be our tester.”

Kind of nervous as to what to expect. And kind of laughing to myself that he picked probably the only person who doesn’t drink (minus the pregnant chick on the tour) in the room.

“Since you’ve already got your sleeves rolled up, I want you to stick your finger in this oatmeal looking stuff. And stir it up good.”

Umm… awkward in front of a room full of people with my finger stuck in this grainy oatmeal looking vat.

“Now taste your finger!”

Too funny! You couldn’t hardly taste anything though. Very, very bland at that point. No flavor. No alcohol taste. Just kind of an “eh” taste. It didn’t really taste like anything. Then he made everyone else give it a shot. It was funny to see how leery everyone else was even after seeing me take the fall for the group.

From there, we saw the column still. 36 feet high, I believe he said. And from there, it’s distilled again in a copper pot. Some was going through when we were standing there, so that was cool to see.

Then onto one warehouse. They were all over the area though. I must have passed 30 of them driving into town. They’re super easy to spot since the buildings are all tin and painted black with red doors and trim. Very classy and distinct looking.

The gift shop was amazing too. So modern and upscale after walking through the warehouse. They had a sample of Maker’s Mark, as well as Maker’s 46, which is their new stuff, in the gift shop. They had some pretty cool stuff in there too. And if you bought a bottle of Maker’s Mark there, you could dip the wax yourself. How cool is that?

From there, I walked around and snagged a few more shots. Of the buildings… I can see how that would read several ways, given my location at a distillery. The Old Gristmill Distillery is actually listed as a historic place. It’s thought to be the oldest existing liquor store essentially. And it was a drive-thru! It’s built up to be on the same level a carriage would be, so you wouldn’t have to get out. The second picture is of the labeling building. 200 square feet and every bottle is labeled by a person by hand in this room. Just ridiculous, given what could be done automatically with machines now. The third picture is a close up of one of the shutters. Every shutter on the grounds is like this. And it’s life-size, so every bottle of Maker’s Mark ever made could fit into the slot. And finally, the last picture is of the entrance sign. They were decorating for Christmas while we were there on tour, so it made it that much more fun and festive.

If you’re ever in the area, I’d highly recommend it. I enjoyed it so much, I’m toying with trying to tour at least one other bourbon distillery when I’m here. Maybe Jim Beam? Wild Turkey? They’re all in the area.

This trip is too fun!

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3 Responses to The Mark of a Maker

  1. Ooh, cool – we’ve been talking about doing a bourbon tour in the fall, but next fall will be consumed with Stephen’s wedding, so guess that’s put off another year. I have heard it’s a grand time – and I love Maker’s Mark, too.

    • Do it! I did two of them today on top of being in Louisville this morning. So if you rushed it, you could do three in one day or take your time and do two a day. And that’d be three days to complete the whole thing. Piece of cake to do around Stephen’s wedding.

  2. Pingback: The Conspirator | Nanu's Nation

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