Our final two stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail were Maker’s Mark Distillery and Barton’s 1792 Distillery.
Maker’s Mark Distillery
Next we headed down the winding roads to the home of Maker’s Mark Distillery a National Historic Landmark nestled in the rolling hills of Marion County. Any bourbon tour would be incomplete without a stop at Maker’s Mark who has been producing its bourbon whiskey (they spell it “whisky” in honor of the company’s Scottish roots) since 1840.
There are plenty of signs along the way to get you there in time to dip your own souvenir bottle in their signature red wax.
The distillery is located on scenic 850-acre grounds framed by magnolias and sugar maples.
Amidst the picturesque setting you’ll visit an antique fire engine in the fire department, the original owner’s Victorian house, a road toll house, a quart house (believed to be the nation’s oldest remaining retail whiskey store), barrel warehouse, still house, and Visitors Center.
Many of the structures at Maker’s Mark date back to the early 1800s but it wasn’t until 1958 that the first bottle with the signature red wax seal appeared on the shelves.
In the gift gallery you can buy a bottle (if you’re 21 or older) and plunk it in the dipping booth, creating a customized red wax sealed bottle that you can sign and date.
Robert Samuels brewed his first batch in 1780 for personal use. Samuels’ grandson, T.W., erected the family’s first commercial distillery on the family farm in 1840. The name Maker’s Mark comes from the tradition of fine English pewter; makers only put their mark on their finest pieces.
Enjoy this can’t-miss stop and its picturesque grounds, Whisky Creek, and educational tour.
This 19th-century distillery, the oldest operating, on its original site, beautifully restored by T.W. Samuels, Sr. and still making bourbon and hand-dipping bottles.
No longer complimentary, tours and bourbon tasting is $7 per adult Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Sundays 11:30-3:30 p.m.
Directions: From Bardstown, south on SR-49, east on SR-52 through Loretto, and take a slight left on Burkes Springs Road
Address: 3350 Burkes Spring Road, Loretto, KY 40037
Phone: (270) 865-2881
Barton’s 1792 Distillery
The last stop on our Bourbon Country tour was Barton’s 1792 Distillery.
Twenty-eight warehouses are home to hibernating Bourbon barrels on the grounds of Barton’s 1792 Distillery. The 192-acre distillery is on the site of the historical Tom Moore Distillery, established in 1879. Located within the city limits of Bardstown, the distillery extracts water from the same limestone springs its founder used to make bourbon more than 100 years ago.
The distillery has 28 aging warehouses, but the most famous is Warehouse Z. Located on the western bluff—a prime spot for summer sun and air circulation, which aid the aging process—Warehouse Z is where 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, the official toasting bourbon of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, matures.
Ken Pierce, who developed 1792’s flavor, gives most of the credit to the location of Warehouse Z.
The distillery’s flagship brand pays tribute to the year Kentucky gained statehood. Rye recipe bourbon, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve is handcrafted in small batches, aged 8 years, and bottled at 93.7 proof.
Complimentary tastings are offered during the distillery’s free tours, on the hour 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Saturday. Since hours change seasonally it’s wise to phone ahead.
Address: 501 Cathedral Manor, Bardstown KT 40004
Phone: (502) 331-4879 or (866) 729-3722 (toll free)
Please Note: This is Part 5 of an ongoing series on Kentucky/Bourbon Country
We could say that people who eat grits, listen to country music, follow stock-car racing, support corporal punishment in the schools, hunt ‘possum, go to Baptist churches and prefer bourbon to Scotch are likely to be Southerners.
—John Shelton Reed