Driving through a series of intertwined backroads off I-65 there’s the heart of Bourbon Country (Kentucky for you fools out there), where most likely that bottle of bourbon sitting on your shelf was originated (hopefully not dusting!). I was a bit strapped on time so I couldn’t hit up all of the distilleries, but was lucky enough to make a stop at my favorite whisky’s homeland for a visit to the Maker’s Mark factory.
Now, brewing some of the world’s finest bourbon is no small thing. There is an extensive process behind this deliciousness that took YEARS to perfect. And thanks to Bill Samuels Sr., a man who decided to carry out his whisky dreams, the Maker’s Mark factory is alive and well today, exporting a healthy chunk of the world’s tastiest bourbon to us happy drinkers.
The uniqueness of Kentucky’s climate for whisky aging and the convenience of the limestone-enriched lake where the taste of its purified blend is much attributed to makes Maker’s Mark a one-of-a-kind taste (I mean, there’s no other whisky like it, really.) And can you believe the hefty land spot was bought for only like, 30 grand back in the day? Nowadays that’s like a pocket full of chump change! You can bet they capitalized…
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Before it’s whisky, it’s beer (essentially):
2. Double distillation for perfection:
Not once, but twice the whisky is distilled—taking out all impurities (yes, Maker’s is gluten-free), again, why Maker’s is almost incomparable.
3. Barrels, and barrels, and barrels…:
3. The wait:
For six years while one batch is aging, you can bet the factory remains busy (there’s 100-something employees in total that are “very well taken care of”). Not to mention, Maker’s Mark uses traditional whisky-making techniques, rotating the barrels every so often to evenly distribute the taste.
4. The legendary dip:
Hand-dipped to seal the deal.
7: The taste:
Before the whisky is barreled, it’s in its primitive state. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still drinkably delicious… the Maker’s White is comparable to a silver tequila, heightening the sweeter side of the mixture before it is thrown into blend with the white oak. But after 6 years of sitting in those cylindric wood containers, you get your Maker’s Mark Fully Matured whisky bourbon, aka the Maker’s Mark you probably normally drink. For an extra wood taste that arouses all parts of the tongue, wait an extra three years for your Maker’s Over-Matured (it’s yummy!). The newest addition, that’s only about 3 years old, is Maker’s 46 Anniversary Blend—a twist on traditionally over-aged barrels. The taste is sweeter, and its caramelized blend eliminates any bitterness that’s present traditionally.
Did I mention this tour cost only $7? Definitely worth the trip, especially if you live within driving distance or if you happen to be traveling in a city nearby (Nashville is about an hour and a half away.) Oh yeah…just warning you: at the end of the tour they let you sample some dangerously good bourbon chocolate (you’ll be lucky to avoid spending $20 on a box of your own to take home.) Just make sure it’s not 100 degrees the day you go, because those things will melt in your car faster than you can say, “I wish I could stay at the Maker’s Mark factory forever”…