Last week we journeyed the northern part of the American Whiskey Trail from New York City, western Pennsylvania and down to the Virginia estate of George Washington. Come along this week to Kentucky and Tennessee where the history of whiskey is alive and well at a handful of renowned distilleries.
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Unlike Scottish, Irish and other whiskeys, whiskey, known as bourbon, must has specific rules. It must be American made, contain at least 51 percent corn and be aged in new charred oak barrels
In Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort, the oldest continuous American distillery exists. For over 200 years, Buffalo Trace, formerly the George T. Stagg Distillery has made whiskey. Even during Prohibition, it was allowed to stay open as the whiskey, on the National Register of Historic Places was deemed “medicinal”. The distillery spreads across 130 acres dotted with still working buildings from the 18th century. Among the brands produced, here is Ancient Age and of course – Buffalo Trace.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has also developed bike and bourbon trails from covering three to six distilleries. They can be accomplished in as little
as a 50-mile one-day ride or a longer journey of 150 miles.
The one-day ride begins at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles. Three different tours are given Tuesdays through Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. Due to the limited space reservations are necessary for the tickets!
Continue pedaling or cruise over to the Wild Turkey Distillery – less than 12 miles away.
Jimmy Russell is a living legend among whiskey makers and as the master distiller; he continues to oversee the making of a bourbon first created back in 1789 by a preacher.
Their free tour is open daily Monday through Saturdays, and seasonally on Sundays.
Nearby, is the Four Roses Distillery, which can be visited daily and without a charge. For a more in-depth tour of the warehouse and bottling facility, located about an hour away, in Cox’s Creek, call for details.
Not far in Loretto, the distinctive red-waxed topped Marker’s Mark is made. Free daily tours allow anyone over the age of 21 to dip their own bottle of the whiskey in the red wax for a memorable souvenir.There is a genuine graciousness at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont. Home to the original bourbon blend, Red Stag and Devil’s Cut, among other offerings, the only thing missing while at the distillery is the opportunity to actually taste the bourbon. Bullitt County is a dry one meaning little sips of the “recipe” are forbidden. Instead, there are offerings a bourbon balls – chocolate gems of goodness.
Cross into Tennessee and head to Lynchburg where Jack Daniel’s awaits. Mr. Jack was a real person and his sour mash whiskey, first made in the mid 19th century is the best selling in the world. Also in a dry county, you can purchase small bottles of Jack to take home.
George Dickel too was a real person who took the “e” out of the accepted spelling of whiskey as he thought his product was as fine as anything Scotland could produce.
A trip along the American Whiskey Trail is bound to be spirited and smooth.
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