A Stop on the Bourbon Trail: Maker’s Mark

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I’m sure that most people know, especially Kentuckians, but Kentucky is responsible for 95% of the world’s bourbon. So, it should come as no surprise that the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is in Kentucky. It obviously wouldn’t be anywhere else.

This past weekend, we decided to take a trip 70 miles from Lexington to Loretto, Kentucky. There you can find the Maker’s Mark distillery. You drive through winding, country roads to get there, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

Our goal is to visit all the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, so we can receive our free t-shirts (If you visit all of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail and have your passport stamped, you can send it in to receive your free t-shirt). Maker’s Mark is one of the nine distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (There are many other distilleries, but they aren’t on the trail).

We visited Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and Town Branch last year. This past weekend, we checked off Maker’s Mark and Heaven Hill. Only four more to go!

Maker’s Mark is an iconic and distinctive brand. You can easily distinguish it from the others, because of the red wax on the bottle (I actually got to dip my very own bottle. More on that to come later in the post). They are also known for their collector’s bottles. When they are released, it isn’t a shock that a lot of people spend the night outside of local liquor stores, in hopes of snagging one of the coveted bottles.

markersmark_bourbonwall makersmark_decoration makersmark_decor makersmark_building2 markersmark_scenery atmakersmark makersmarkbuilding makersmark_barrelscoolceilingatmakersmark makersmark_tasting

The tour starts with you learning the history of Maker’s Mark and the Samuels family outside of the stillhouse. We then were led into the production building itself. We got to see the humungous vats of fermenting mash (and you could even dip your finger in it). The stills are used to double-distill the fermented mash into raw whiskey. We got to go to another building, where we saw where they bottle, label, wax, and finally box each one. After that, we got to go into one of the rick houses, where we were told about the aging process. After we learned about the process, it was time for the tasting. During our tasting, we got to try all four of their spirits; Maker’s White, Maker’s Mark Full Matured, Maker’s 46, and Maker’s Mark Cask Strength. Finally, after that, you could visit the gift shop if you wanted. You also could have the opportunity to dip your own bottle (Purchase required and you must be 21+years old).

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Of course, we bought a bottle, so I could dip it myself. I am a fan of Maker’s Mark anyways, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity, plus it was a collector’s edition bottle, making it even better!

 

A few tidbits about Maker’s Mark:

Maker’s Mark is the oldest working bourbon distillery on its original site in the world.

-It became a National Historic Landmark in 1980.

-Each bottle is dipped by hand.

-The wax itself won’t melt until it reaches 350 degrees.

-Maker’s Mark is bottled at 90 proof (45% alcohol by volume).

-Maker’s Mark is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

-No rye is used as part of the mash. Instead, red winter wheat is used, along with corn (which is the predominant grain) and malted barley.

-It is marketed as a small batch bourbon.

-It is aged around six years.

-Maker’s Mark is one of the few distilleries to rotate their barrels from the upper levels to the lower levels during the aging process. This is to help even out the temperatures during the process. The ones are the upper levels are exposed to the greatest temperature changes, so rotating them to lower levels helps ensure the taste and quality isn’t effected in any of the barrels.

-It is one of the few American-made whiskies to be labeled using ‘whisky,’ which is the Scottish spelling, instead of the American spelling, whiskey (Old Forester and George Dickel are other brands that do this).

 

“All bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbon.”

That’s entirely a different topic, and I’ll be sure to explain in an upcoming post. Because there IS a difference.

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Something cool that Maker’s Mark has is that they have an ambassador program. I’m a Maker’s Mark ambassador and my barrel won’t be ready until sometime between May 2022 to November 2023 (Their bourbons age for six to seven years). If you want to sign up to be one, you can here. It’s free, but when your barrel is ready, you have the opportunity to purchase a bottle of bourbon from it, if you wish. Pretty cool, huh?

 

Important Information: Tours are offered every hour on the half hour. Monday through Saturday, it is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm and Sunday from 11:30am to 3:30pm; March to December. Tours are $9 for visitors 21 years old and older.

 

Next stop: Heaven Hill

 

*Disclaimer: You must be at least 21 years of age to drink alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.

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  • Robin Rue

    What a neat place to tour. My husband loves Maker’s Mark and would love to visit here someday.

    • I just know that he would love it!! If you ever come to Kentucky, Woodford Reserve is also a great one to visit too. It’s in Versailles, which is about 30 miles from Lexington!

  • Wendy Polisi

    This looks like a really fun tour. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • We are doing this trip this fall! I am so excited now! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

    • You’re welcome! I’m sure you will have a lot of fun! If you are looking for something else to do, while you’re in Kentucky, feel free to message me!

  • I’ve done wine tasting, but never Whisky, and I love whisky. I’m definitely adding this to my bucket list.

  • I am not a bourbon drinker, but my dad is. Their property is beautiful. I’d love to take my dad. I totally signed up for a barrel. Thank you for the link!

    • Awesome!! I signed up to be an ambassador about three months ago, and actually today I just received my official informational packet. Talk about perfect timing, hahah!! You should come to Kentucky and take your dad, he would love it!

      • I think I am going to have to. I just texted him, “Do you like Maker’s Mark?” And he wrote: “Love it…a couple of ice cubes and good to go.” LOL

        • Hahah!! Love it! And once your barrel matures, you can visit them in Loretto and buy a bottle from your barrel. There is also an app you can download for your smartphone to keep updated where it is in the process. They’ll also post a photograph whenever it makes it to the warehouse (could take up to six months!)

  • Rachel Zampanti Langer

    This is so cool! I love that you got to dip your own bottle. Totally a once in a lifetime thing.

    • It was so much fun! We will probably go back again (because any of the tours are worth doing more than once), and then I’ll let my husband get the chance to dip it!

  • tp keane

    Wow what a strange and fascinating place. Love the roof and the old barrels.

    • It’s pretty standard for all bourbon distilleries in regards to the process, the rick houses, the fermenting mash, etc). The barrels are actually not old! The barrels are currently filled with bourbon, and the barrels are never reused for bourbon 🙂

  • I had no idea Kentucky supplied that much bourbon, but then again I wouldn’t know since I don’t drink it. I do however like doing tours and seeing how things are done.

    • They have a saying in Kentucky… “If it ain’t Kentucky, it ain’t bourbon.” There are actually more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are people in the whole state. In 2014, there were 5.6 million barrels of bourbon aging, while there were only 4.4 million people living in Kentucky.

  • I JUST DID SOMETHING LIKE THIS TOO! ha! But with WHiskey!

  • This looks like so much fun! My husband and I have never done this, but we both have our names on barrels waiting for us one day 🙂

  • Rebecca Bryant

    What a cool and memorable trip. Ilvoe when trips make memories that last a lifetime.

  • kdwald

    I have to take my husband there! I don’t drink anymore, but he loves a good whiskey…bourbon. (He knows which!)

  • Michele

    Question about the trail….not being from Kentucky, is it something you could build a vacation around doing the whole trail? OMG, this is so awesome!

    • You totally could! There’s nine on the trail (but if you wanted to visit some not on the trail, you could do that too!). Every time, we have went on a tour, the majority of people are from Kentucky, but there’s also quite a bit from out of state.

      Here’s a trip planner that they made: http://kybourbontrail.com/trip-planner/
      However, I recommend only doing only two a day, since that’s all that you will have time for.

      The Kentucky Bourbon Trail also has an app for your smartphone!

  • I love Maker’s Mark! This is a tour I’ve always wanted to do. Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  • That’s such a cool place to visit. And it’s AWESOME you got to dip your own bottle!

    • It was so cool!! Whenever we go back, I’m planning on doing it again (especially when I buy a bottle from my own barrel!)

  • My husband would love this experience and tour because he favors dark liquor. I think it’s amazing how much history there is behind these whiskeys.

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  • Laura Londergan

    we LOVE Maker’s MArk in our family but they may have something to do with the fact that my dad grew up in KY. 😉 regardless this looks like a tour we have to do

  • Wow whom knew how much history there is behind whiskey. My bestie is obsessed with both whisky and Kentucky so that would kill two birds with one stone.

    • Distilling bourbon dates back to the 18th century, and whiskey dates back even further than that (some claim even 1000 A.D.). Your friend would love it here… They should come!! After all, our unofficial motto is “Kentucky Kicks Ass!”

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Oooooo I just love taking tours like this!!! Hubby loves Makers Mark so we really should take a tour sometime 🙂

  • CreativeWifeBlog

    I love Makers Mark it is so cool to get a little glimpse into their space. Thanks for sharing

  • Ivanna

    Wow what a cool experience. I have never tried this before but it looks like a cool place and experience. http://petiteheartbeat.com

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