Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louisville Recap: Day One

Yesterday we arrived home after 3 1/2 days of camping and sightseeing in Louisville, KY. We had an amazing time, and it's kind of tough to have to face going back to both jobs! Antoine, that lucky duck, is in NYC right now on a Mancation with some of his closest buddies. While he's seeing Conan O'Brian and drinking it up at a Yankees game, I'll working like a dog! Can you tell I'm a bit jealous?

Anyway, since there's so much to recap from our trip I've decided to break it down, day by day. So here's day one:

First on the agenda was the Maker's Mark Distillery...

The grounds are beautiful and we had about an hour to kill before the next tour so we roamed around.

The buildings are all black and red, surrounded by trees and a stream, and there's little paths at lead you from building to building.

The entire distillery had this very homey, retro feel to it which was lovely.

Our tour guide was sassy and amazing (and sadly I can't remember her name)! The tour was great, especially for a free tour! And we were lucky enough to be there on a day when they were making bourbon! We got to see huge 12ft tall barrels of mash fermenting! It was pretty neat, and smelly!

Then after the tour came the tasting. We got to taste Maker's Mark bourbon, their Mint Julep bourbon and a bourbon ball. All delicious, but I especially liked the mint julep!

The next stop on the agenda was the Heaven Hill distillery. Unfortunately due to issues with time we had to make a choice between Heaven Hill or Jim Beam. We decided to skip Heaven Hill, since Antoine had already been there (and said it wasn't that exciting), and opted for Jim Beam. We did drive by Heaven Hill on our way to Jim Beam though...and I'm kind of glad we didn't go there. Something about Heaven Hill gave me the creeps!! It was literally up on a hill and mainly consisted of stark white barrel houses that were spaced far about...the whole thing reminded me of an asylum from some scary movie. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but here's one I found on the internets to prove my point...
Okay, so it didn't look quite like this...but it was still creepy!

Next up was Jim Beam. While approaching the Jim Beam distillery it was interesting to note the differences in the three distilleries, just on appearance and location alone. Maker's Mark was tucked away in the hills, a quaint little distillery with a very friendly and homey feel to it. Heaven Hill was creepy, and consisted of barrel houses and a welcome center. Upon entering Jim Beam you first noticed the factory which was rather large and unwelcoming. Then after passing the factory, you saw the large barrel houses (much larger than those at Maker's, but similar to those at Heaven Hill) and a red barn and a white house up on the hill (the visitor's area).

While at Maker's you could roam the grounds pretty freely, at Jim Beam, even their barrel houses were locked up/gated.

You could look through the gate to the creepy inside that houses the barrels of bourbon.

The Jim Beam tour consisted of a brief tour of the house/museum (very small) and a centered mainly on a video that you viewed inside the house. This tour definitely didn't hold a candle to the Maker's tour...the guide wasn't nearly as exciting and the video was a big let down (it mainly stated that Jim Beam was the #1 selling bourbon whiskey in the US and showed young, somewhat slutty girls enjoying some Jim Beam. And there's was a little bit of historical background in there too). Following the tour/video, we were able to taste two of Jim Beam's aged bourbons: Basil Hayden and Knob Creek (both of which I had never heard of before). The Knob Creek was by far my favorite of the two!

However, good news for those considering a tour of the bourbon trail in the future, Jim Beam is currently working on creating a more involved tour. While the tour still won't allow you to go into the factory to see the distillation, fermentation or bottling processes (like at Maker's), it should give you a better idea of how bourbon is made and will allow you to view the inside of a barrel house (that is, beyond the gate).

*But, if your just interested in going to one bourbon distillery I would advise going to Maker's Mark! It's worth the further drive south. The grounds are much prettier and the tour is much more involved and interesting.

After Jim Beam we drove right across the street to the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. The weather was getting a little cloudy, but we took a quick walk around part of the grounds.

I'd be a great place to go on a sunny afternoon and pack a picnic (just watch out for the duck poop by the lake)!

In one of the water features we spotted these tiny little frogs, and I of course made Antoine pick one up so I could take a couple pictures!

I think this might be my favorite picture of the entire trip! How cute is that!?

Then we spotted this terrifying spider in the water. It's called a Fishing Spider...poor little frogs don't stand a chance against this enormous thing!

After I ran away from the freaky spider, I spotted these gorgeous foxgloves.

The "green" visitor's center unfortunately closed about 5 minutes after we arrived.

Day one turned out to be a success.

We didn't get to go to all the things on the list, but Heaven Hill was creepy so I was okay with that. And we were able to get to our campground and set up our tent just before it started pouring...literally, seconds after the tent was up the rain started coming down! Anyway, day one was good!

Stay tuned for Day Two of the Louisville recap tomorrow...it will include a deflating air mattress, sun burn and a lot of glass.


bluemillion said...

What a terrific blog. Wished you had come on into town and taken the Kentucky Cooperage (bourbon barrel-making factory) tour right on Main Street. Would have made a great companion piece to your bourbon experience. Maker's Mark Distillery is located just outside Lebanon, Ky. and Kentucky Cooperage is right on Main Street. You can learn more at www.VisitLebanonKy.com.

wonderousclusterf#@k said...

Thank you! Our tour guide at Maker's actually told us about Kentucky Cooperage and that they offer tours (we had no idea)! Well, it won't be our last trip to Maker's, so next time we'll definitely have to include the Kentucky Cooperage!