Skip to main content

Bourbon Trail

Erin and I took a trip to Kentucky this weekend (2.5 hours or so from Nashville) to tour whisky distilleries the way they're meant to be toured .. with tastings! I say this, as Tennessee's two big ones, Dickel and Jack Daniels, are in DRY counties, so good luck getting a tasting there. Cheers to you, Maker's Mark and Heaven Hill Distilleries (makers of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig).

The spellcheck on this just flagged "whisky" above, asking that it be spelled "whiskey." I did a quick look-up on history and culture, with Irish and American whiskeys being spelled that way and Scottish, Canadian, etc. being spelled whisky. Bourbon, we learned, must have the following attributes:

-at least 51% corn (most are 70% or so)
-made in America
-no more than 160 proof / 80% alcohol by volume (ABV)
-finished in charred white oak barrels

In fall 2008, we visited Isle of Arran Distellers, where we learned that Scotch is ironically finished in used, oak barrels, often from the Americas! So, a white oak tree in a Kentucky forest may eventually make its way to the west coast of Scotland for a wee bit more work. ; ) For a second act, the barrel, known as "cask" in Scotland, is putting out a product that's at least 98.4% ABV!! "Water of life," indeed! (Irish Gaelic uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha)

Despite this being the 21st century, it's amazing how relatively simple and unchanged the whiskey distilling process is - it's mostly time and temperature that does the work. In fact, we learned that Elijah Craig was a minister, who, after a house fire singed his oak barrels, decided to use them anyway. The result? A beautiful, sweet, smooth product that customers downriver in New Orleans and beyond began demanding after his experiement in 1789.

Speaking of charred things, we finished the day in Bardstown at The Old Talbott Tavern, where we had some mediocre food. I got a Hot Brown and Erin had a chicken marsala. My meal came as expected, yet with a bit too much cheese and not enough bread, at least for my tastes. Erin's meal reminded me of cheap Chinese food, as the chicken was so fried it crunched - gross! Still, after a day of wondering around the Kentucky countryside, any meal was appreciated at that point.

Overall, the day-trip was fun and I'd recommend the Bourbon Trail to anyone wanting a mix of history, scenery and drinking.


  1. aah the Isle of Aaran story and Steve during our max patch camping trip. he just thought that was the coolest thing ever!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Friends with Benefits: Meet EV Originals

I love that feeling when a friend accomplishes something wonderful.

Maybe because I'm a only child and thus friends often feel like family, or maybe it's just because we all need a little more raising up these days.

So when I heard that a friend from the Nashville, TN area who co-founded and operates a catering business decided to share her culinary talents with the masses and create a line of bottled products, EV Originals, I did a big ol' happy dance.

Some Like It Hot -- And Toasted on Both Sides

The latest news in appliances seems to indicate there's no love for the good ol' traditional Crock-Pot.
Fictional drama aside, the slow cooker most of us grew up with is receiving some healthy competition from the new hot thing, the Instapot
But in our house, we're having a face-off with a completely different category of kitchen appliances -- it's the Toaster vs Toaster Oven.

The Best Way to Keep Cannoli Fresh and Other Baltimore Stories

My mom and step-dad were up visiting for Thanksgiving and after gorging ourselves on turkey and the sites of D.C., I took them on a day-trip to Baltimore.

After a visit to my mom's favorite museum (she's a mosaic artist), we aimed for lunch at Rocket to Venus in Hampden. It was closed for lunch, but our trip up Charles St. wasn't for naught - we stumbled onto residents of 34th St. setting up their Christmas displays! This street is Christmas at its best, or worst, depending on your tolerance/interest in all things Christmas. Erin teases me for being a scrooge, but I have to admit, lights and what-not are nice at this cold and dark time of year.

After a brief walk through Hampden, we aimed for lunch at Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point. The tavern was most certainly open, with rowdy sports fans packing the bar and even spilling onto the sidewalk for fresh-shucked oysters. (My friend Gideon would have camped out right there for their Chincoteagues!) After some deliberati…