Kentucky: King of Bourbon

Within these past three weeks of Centre Term, I have had the privilege to visit two different distilleries here in Kentucky. We visited Wilderness Trace distillery which is located right here in Danville, Kentucky, as well as Makers Mark which is located in Loretta, Kentucky. Both of these distilleries help the state of Kentucky remain the King of bourbon, but they each go about it in a somewhat different way.

Wilderness Trace is a much smaller, yet newer distillery here in Kentucky. They use local wheat, corn, and other grains to make their bourbon. They haven’t been able to actually produce any drinkable bourbon yet because they are so new and the bourbon has to age for a few years. Their tour focused more on the chemistry of making bourbon. The men who run the distillery are very interested in the chemistry that goes in to making bourbon and have incorporated that into their business very well. This was the first distillery we visited so it helped us gain a better idea of how bourbon is made before we visited the very successful and well known distillery, Makers Mark.

Makers Mark is much larger than Wilderness Trace, and a whole lot older. Their tour focused more on the history of the distillery and how the business started. The tour took us through all of the different processes the bourbon goes through before it is put in the bottle and sealed with their signature wax. They showed us their larger than life mashing bowls which also allowed us to see the fermenting process. We also learned that they use their very own specialized yeast to make the bourbon. We also learned that they rotate their barrels in order to keep all of their bourbon tasting the same. This tour focused less on the chemistry of bourbon making, but gave us more of a visual of the whole process, including bottling.

Both distilleries were a very fun experience and helped me understand the process of bourbon making a lot more. Although we were all underage and could not actually taste the bourbon, it was still very cool to see how it is made and all of the chemistry that is involved with it.

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