In case you missed it last week, we recently got back from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (check out Stops One—Four in Part I of this post to see the first four distilleries we checked out!)
Picking up where we left off, we took our second day to see Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and one of the distilleries on the Craft Bourbon trail—Limestone Branch. We rounded it out with a mini-pub crawl through Louisville. Our fave bars are at the end of the post!
Stop Five: Maker’s Mark
The weather in Kentucky on our second day was so perfect, it’s hard not to be biased. That said, I think Maker’s was my favorite distillery experience of the trip. This may be because I’m in advertising, and was fascinated by their brand story, which they tell most excellently as you wander the property. Maker’s was also the only tour that took us into the bottling area. While it wasn’t in operation because of the weekend, we did get to see where the dip each bottle of Maker’s Mark in a vat of red wax—pretty cool! By far the best part of Maker’s was dipping our own bottle at the end of the tour. In fact, you can dip anything you purchase at the gift shop in red wax. We saw a few baseball hats, glassware, flasks, and a ton of different bottles go into the vat.
The Maker’s property is also really beautiful—a creek (named “Whisky Creek” of course) runs through it, the buildings are painted a rich brown with vibrant red shutters, and the whole feel of the place was very cozy and welcoming. Their visitor’s center did a great job telling the Maker’s story, with Harry Potter-esque talking portraits that gave you a preview of the personalities that shaped the brand.
Address: 3350 Burkes Spring Rd, Loretto, KY 40037 [Full disclosure: this place was a DRIVE and a half, so prepare lots of time. On the plus side, there was some beautiful scenery along the way.]
Stop Six: Limestone Branch
Limestone Branch is technically on the Craft Bourbon trail, but we wound up only tasting their White Lightnings on our visit. White Lightning, White Dog, Moonshine…they were used interchangeably during our trip to describe the high proof liquid that is first distilled, before it gets aged in the barrels and comes out as bourbon whisky. It smells delicious, but boy will it put some hair on your chest! Limestone Branch had softened that shudder-inducing taste by infusing their ‘shines with a variety of fruits and flavors—my favorites being the ones based on Moon Pies, another Southern treat. The chocolate one was to die for, perfect for a dessert drink. They also had a jalapeno moonshine, which our guide assured us is delicious in Bloody Mary’s. It tasted delicious as-is, too—so good in fact that a bottle of it came home with us. Limestone Branch is really small, but if you’ve made the drive out to Maker’s, it’s only a few miles away and certainly worth the stop.
Address: 1280 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Lebanon, KY 40033
Stop Seven: Jim Beam
Jim Beam was the last stop on our tour—we unfortunately didn’t make the full passport this time. Even more unfortunately, we missed the tour due to the length of the drive from Limestone Branch to Jim. We did get to do the tasting, though, in their super modern tasting barn. Their property was also really fun—a series of little barns each designated to a different purpose. They are their own cooperage too, so one barn was dedicated to making barrels. Pretty neat. The tasting was pretty unique. Imagine a vending machine that poured bourbon and you’ll get a pretty good idea. I’d had no idea that Jim Beam makes and distributes Knob Creek, which is absolutely delicious. We also tried their Jim Beam Single Barrel—awesome. We rounded out our self-guided tour at their on-premise BBQ shack, Fred’s Smokehouse, for some brisket sliders and mac n’ cheese.
Address: 526 Happy Hollow Rd, Clermont, KY 40110
Price: FREE (for tasting)
Stop Eight: Louisville Bar Crawl
Our favorite stops on the Louisville scene were as follows:
Troll Under the Bridge: Great beer selection, lots of TVs to catch the March Madness madness, neat history
Sidebar: Swanky atmosphere, delicious bourbon cocktails, cool theme (a sidebar is when lawyers approach the judge to conference in the courtroom)
Bluegrass Brewing Company: Local brewing company, amazing food (we ate dinner there—their burgers were amazing), chill vibe