Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Bourbon Country Cave City, KY, Monday, 07 November 2011 4:43pm

Today was devoted to Bourbon touring. I took tours of the Woodford Reserve and Maker's Mark distilleries and visited the gift shop of the Jim Beam distillery.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the distilleries. Woodford has a spacious, quiet facility. They aren't producing enough bourbon to fill the space they have, and don't seem like they're in a hurry to scale up. Maker's Mark's space is packed, and they're planning to build two rackhouses (storage buildings where the barrels of whiskey mature) per year for the next five years. In the meantime, they're selling unaged "white lightning".

Both of the tours were interesting. Woodford uses rye for flavor (like most bourbons), while Maker's uses wheat. The difference was clear from the sour mash. Both distilleries let you dip your finger into the brewing mash for a taste. Woodford's mash is more sour and sharp, while Maker's Mark's mash is sweeter and smoother.

Bourbon country, the Bluegrass Region, is very pretty. Sure enough, there's an impressively full, green grass everywhere. There are enough trees to make the region not seem barren, but most of the area is fields. Many of them are fenced off and populated by horses. Streams and ponds seem plentiful. And the roads are pleasantly windy.