Monday, October 29, 2012

Destination: Louisville

A couple weekend’s ago, John and I took a belated birthday trip to Louisville, Kentucky. Because we were celebrating John’s birthday, I planned a John-centric itinerary of bourbon distilleries. He is forever driving me to wineries and since I am no fan of bourbon, I was the driver. I think I did a pretty good job on this birthday gift, if I do say so myself.

We dropped off an unsuspecting Sadie at daycamp (where she’d also spend the night) and hit the road. A little over 2 hours later, we ended up at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky. We got a little turned around and toured “downtown” Frankfort. It may be the capital but it is small. Just in case you ever thought you needed to hang out there. 

The grounds at Buffalo Trace were very nice, even for our overcast day of touring. Stepping out of the car, an overwhelming smell of bourbon invaded my nose. I guess we're here.

Say hello to my buffalo friend

The tours here are hourly and free. Our guide was VERY 
enthusiastic about bourbon. A lot of reviews I read mentioned that 
all B.T. tour guides are really proud of their product which I 
Nothing worse than a tour guide who doesn't want to be there. We 
had a large group and in a little over an hour we walked the 
grounds, watched a short video on the history of Buffalo Trace 
(who make lots of other bourbons that you'd recognize by name 
too) and had a tasting.

Barrel House - Bourbon ages here for years and years and years

Old school copper still
We were lucky the the single barrel reserve bottles of Blanton's (one of John's faves) and Rock Hill were being bottled on this very day. We would get to see bottling in action! It was pretty cool. Then, we all got the horse stoppers that can be found on Blanton's bottles. There are 8 in all and when you line them up, it's a horse race. You can by all 8 in a barrel stave here (friends of ours have one and it's super neat) but we're going to collect them one by one. Challenge! We have 2 N's so far.

Waiting to be bottled

Bottles waiting to go down the line. Those tubes hook up to the barrels.

Everyone gets his horsey!

Then we proceeded to the tasting room where everyone got to try 2 different bourbons. They also distill their own vodka. I gave my first tasting to John. The second, however, was a bourbon cream. It was DELICIOUS! It's something new they're making and it's not distributed anywhere but in the gift shop there. It was similar to Bailey's and with a little root beer. Oh my stars. We came home with a bottle of that for sure.

And then our time at Buffalo Trace was done and we were on the road to Shepherdsville, KY about 30 minutes south. A quick stop a Wendy's for lunch and we arrived at Four Roses Distillery. The grounds here were a lot smaller but significant in their Spanish Mission style architect which was pretty. Strong bourbon and corn smell here too!

Tours here are also hourly and free and included three tastings. All 

of mine went to John. He was quite pleased. While some of the 

information here was a repeat of what we had just heard, their 

history was, of course, different. We also got to see the mash 

percolating, which we didn't see at Buffalo Trace. Here, the aroma 

was very strong, obviously. A small percent evaporates while it's 

heated and they call that the Angel's Share. Lucky angels!

John bought a bottle of their Single Barrel variety which he 

deemed the best of the three. Then we headed on over to 

Louisville. I Pricelined our hotel for the night and got a great 

deal. The key to Priceline is knowing where your free rebid 

zones are. For instance, if you're going for a 4 star hotel, 

there are inevitably areas that have no 4 star hotels available 

but you can add them as a zone without upping your bid 

too much. I ended up getting our room at about 60% off. 

The Brown Hotel is somewhat of an institution and it's 

also the home of the original Hot Brown sandwich. This is an 

open-faced turkey (?) sandwich covered in gravy. We didn't 

try it. Check out this lobby though!

We had dinner at Morton's which was delicious. Then we stopped at a couple places at 4th Street Live on the way back to our hotel. This is an outdoor block closed to traffic that is chock full of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, etc. John continued his bourbon-y weekend here with some tastings at the Maker's Mark Lounge.

Then we headed back to the hotel but stopped for some local beer at the Bluegrass Brewing Co. There weren't many people here but the service was fast and friendly.

By then we were exhausted. It had been a long day and we crashed. Walked to Starbucks in the morning for coffee and oatmeal and then got ready to head home. But, not before having lunch at Chuy's, my FAVORITE Mexican restaurant that is finally making its way north. We first experienced it in Austin and are excited that they are expanding.

Then, we headed home a scant 36 hours after we left. It was a whirlwind getaway but a lot of fun. Great way to spend a birthday, if you ask me!

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