I had the opportunity to go to Kentucky with a couple of good friends in January. Being that Kentucky is the whiskey capital of the world, our trip was not without a desire for some distillery tours. While we were there, we visited two distilleries. The first distillery was Barton's 1792. It was a rather snowy day, which decreased the normal amount of people that arrived for tours. As a result, we had an extended tour and a lot of perks thrown in. We enjoyed a very detailed look at what goes into the production of a fine whiskey. Despite the small size of Barton's distilling grounds, there was a lot of production flowing through it. Literally.
The second distillery we toured was Makers Mark. The distilling grounds at Makers Mark were large and well designed. Stone buildings, vibrant colors and a well crafted tour that gave us the opportunity to taste the different steps of the process. Another great experience was watching each bottle get hand dipped; a process that Makers Mark has patented. Several members of our group bought their own bottle and dipped it themselves after the tour. We learned the proper way to smell, taste and define each whiskey.
Barton's gave us a detailed account of the step by step process as well as the chemistry behind distilling. Makers Mark gave us an overview of the production side of the process and allowed us to taste different parts of the distilling process. Both touring experiences complimented each other and provided us with a well rounded understanding of whiskey distilling.
From corn delivery to the barrel house, good whiskey is a craft that not every distillery masters. I won't claim to be a large fan of whiskey, but I do enjoy a conservative taste of finer, smoother whiskeys. More than that, however, I enjoy the science, chemistry and detail behind the bottle. Both distilleries are worth taking some time to visit and experience.