Kentucky Bourbon Trail - Day Two

Four Roses Distillery, Wild Turkey, Town Branch (Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.), Woodford Reserve Distillery

In the US, legal drinking age is 21. Please drink responsibly.

Four Roses 

Four Roses visitor’s center

Four Roses visitor’s center

A California architecture firm made way for the very distinctive look of Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. The Spanish Mission-style distillery was built in 1910 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Historic distillery in the background

Historic distillery in the background

The distillery is expanding, so the tour was somewhat limited because of the construction. It was really informative, however. The media room featured a model of an interior section of the distillery so our guide could walk through the process in a tabletop scale. We also learned about the different mashbills and flavor profiles that are used to create the different products in their lineup. 

Flags celebrating countries where Four Roses is sold. Wearing a reversible  Tessa Louise  top, thrifted skirt, Chuck Taylors, and  I Adorn U  cuff bracelet.

Flags celebrating countries where Four Roses is sold. Wearing a reversible Tessa Louise top, thrifted skirt, Chuck Taylors, and I Adorn U cuff bracelet.

KBT tip: Four Roses has the best deal of the ten distillery tours. The $5 ticket gets a tour of the distillery in Lawrenceburg, a tour of the warehouse and bottling center in Cox’s Creek, a couple healthy Four Roses pours, and a souvenir tasting glass.


Wild Turkey 

Admittedly, Wild Turkey is not on my top sip list, but the brand is so prolific that I was looking forward to the tour. 

Beyond Wild Turkey Bourbon and Wild Turkey 101 they may be most known for, Wild Turkey Distilling Company offers more premium sips in their Rare Breed, Master’s Keep, and Russell’s Reserve (named for Master Distiller Eddie Russell) products. They also make rye whiskeys and bourbon liqueurs. 

At Wild Turkey Distillery.

At Wild Turkey Distillery.

The tour time coincided with a bartender summer camp program, so we got to see the master tasting room in use. The tour also included a peek at other back-of-house operations, like the control room. 

The tastings at the end of the tour included Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Russell’s Reserve Rye, and Wild Turkey American Honey Sting. I was pleasantly surprised by the rye offering - I don’t usually like ryes.

Wild Turkey sells accessories made by local artists, which was an uncommon gift shop find.


Town Branch 

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I was least familiar with Town Branch before embarking on the Trail. One of the newer distilleries, Town Branch is under the Alltech umbrella. Alltech Lexington Brewing produces a signature Kentucky Ale. While Alltech is newer, the history of brewing and distilling behind it goes back quite a ways. 

Located in Lexington, Town Branch Distillery makes a lot more than bourbon. They also had rye, malt whiskey, and gin available in the tasting room. My favorite sip was a cocktail made with their Bluegrass Sundown (coffee-infused bourbon liqueur), hot water, and heavy cream.

I was more excited about the beers on this tour - Alltech/Town Branch offers something exclusive in that way. While in the brewery, we ran into Master Brewer Ken Lee and a delivery of ingredients for Kentucky Ale.

Bourbon barrel-aged beer is popular but it seemed fitting to try a Kentucky take on it. The Kentucky Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale was enjoyable. A winter seasonal, the Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale piqued my interest. I would love to track it down near me as it comes back into season. 

Beer tastings at the brewery.

Beer tastings at the brewery.

KBT tip: While the tour of the brewery & distillery includes four tokens for valid for beer and liquor, they must be served in different tasting rooms. I used two tokens in the beer tasting room at the brewery and two in the liquor tasting room in the distillery, but the four tokens can be split in any way.


Lexington, Kentucky

Lussi Brown Coffee Bar
An old version of my online dating profile ended with “Coffee, whiskey, adventure… don't be boring.” It makes sense that I would go on a bourbon tourism adventure, find good coffee, and try to combine the two.

Enter Lussi Brown Coffee Bar. They have a full coffee and tea menu and serve coffee and tea cocktails in the evenings and most of the day on Sundays. Their menu also has seasonal offerings, like hot apple cider. I misunderstood their alcohol serving hours, stopped in too early, and was not able to order a cocktail.

I instead ordered a much-needed soy latte - it’s exhausting trying to visit ten distilleries in three days. Definitely planning to stop in next time I visit for a coffee cocktail though!

Lexington Mural Challenge

There is more to Lexington than bluegrass, bourbon, and horses.  There’s an art culture including galleries like M.S. Rezny, museums like the Headley-Whitney, or the Artists’ Attic collective of galleries and studios.  The Central Lexington Public Library also hosts gallery style exhibitions and there is a 21C museum hotel location in Lexington.  Beginning next fiscal year, Lexington will even set aside taxpayer money to fund public art: https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/counties/fayette-county/article217769600.html

The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau (VisitLex) encourages visitors to scout out street art in the community by sponsoring a mural challenge. Approximate locations of dozens of murals commissioned by groups like PRHBTN and LexArts are listed and the challenge is to take a photo with/of at least five of them. 

Upon successful completion, VisitLex sends an 11”x17" poster. I have received my poster and debated posting a photo of it but have decided not to do so. The journey of hunting down the murals is worth the surprise. I will say that the poster is more about the art than about tourism, which is quite satisfying.

There are also a lot of lovely works not part of the challenge that are commissioned by local businesses that I came across on the way to complete the challenge.

Savané Silver 

Falling in line with the art culture of Lexington and my interest in fashion as wearable art, I stumbled upon Savané Silver. Jewelry designer Rachel Savané opened a storefront in downtown Lexington after several years of success at art shows and craft fairs.

She has a background in crafts/metals and an eye for interesting shapes and beautiful stones. Her array of bracelets, rings, earrings, and pendants range in price from ~$70 for minimalist silver earrings to ~$3000 for an impressive ruby pendant. 

Trying on the Savané Silver Ruby and Zoisite  Cerridwen pendant

Trying on the Savané Silver Ruby and Zoisite Cerridwen pendant

Rachel was more than happy to discuss different stones and finishes in the store and her online shop seems to be pretty extensive.

Water eroding bedrock along the Mississippi River results in the unique colors and formations in Kentucky Agate that Rachel uses in her designs.

Willie’s Locally Known

As seen on TV!

As seen on TV!

When Chef Michael Symon says the smoked Blackberry Habanero wings should be on the itinerary, smoked Blackberry Habanero wings should be on the itinerary.  As seen on Season Two of the Food Network show Burgers, Brew, and Que, Willie’s Locally Known is located in Lexington, KY and was on my list of potential restaurants to try on the trip.

I was already tempted by watching the episode on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/watch/1303010 

But what really pushed it over the edge to a must-do was the 50¢ wing special that coincided with the trip.  

Blackberry Habanero Smoked Chicken Wings at Willie’s Locally Known

Blackberry Habanero Smoked Chicken Wings at Willie’s Locally Known

In addition to Blackberry Habanero, my partner and I tried Garlic Parmesan, Ginger Teriyaki, and Caribbean Jerk. All were delicious, but Blackberry Habanero was my favorite. We stopped in on 50¢ wing day, but would probably return for full price wings.


Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve Distillery Visitor’s Center

Woodford Reserve Distillery Visitor’s Center

The most visually stunning distillery on the Trail, Woodford Reserve Distillery is tucked behind scenic farms and pastures in Versailles, KY. One of my favorites even before embarking on the Trail, I enjoyed touring the distillery to learn more about their process. 

Woodford was one of the few operating during the summer - most distilleries have a summer shut down. The buildings are not climate-controlled so the heat kills the yeast needed in the fermenting process. Woodford runs a chilled water system through the fermenters to regulate the temperature. This allows them to continue running, even through hot summer months. 

Woodford Reserve is also the only distillery that triple-distills their product. Also unique to Woodford - the barrel staves are toasted before they are charred. Many distilleries boast the level four char on the staves that give bourbon its characteristic color and flavor, but Woodford's staves are charred much less. The combination of the charring and toasting imparts the unique flavor. 

Woodford Reserve spirit safe and two of the three stills

Woodford Reserve spirit safe and two of the three stills

KBT tip: On Friday evenings in July, August, and September, Woodford has an evening "Friday Night Live” event. The event includes live music on the patio, tours past normal hours, and an optional dinner buffet. Focused on the wings at Willie’s, we skipped the dinner add-on, but it would be a very convenient way to fit more time at the beautiful facility.

View from the patio at Woodford. Real horses roamed in the grass beyond the fence and into the sunset. So dreamy.

View from the patio at Woodford. Real horses roamed in the grass beyond the fence and into the sunset. So dreamy.

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We may have skipped dinner buffet, but couldn’t say no to ice cream.

Inside the Woodford Reserve Visitor Center

Inside the Woodford Reserve Visitor Center


Lessons Learned

This was the smoothest sailing of the whole trip, likely because our tours started earliest (9 am) and ended latest (Woodford Reserve Friday Night Live tour at 6:40 pm). It was a good itinerary to get to all four Lexington area distilleries in one day. Though, it was not enough time to take in other things the city has to offer. 

Next time, I would want to spend more time in Lexington. There are many more murals to track down and other art to peruse. There are whiskey coffee drinks at Lussi Brown's to drink! Another big part of Lexington history is horse racing and Thoroughbred Park, which I'd like to explore more. We considered taking in Lexington nightlife, but were so wiped out from a full day, we headed back to the hotel after the Woodford tour. 

If not visiting on a Friday in the summer, I believe it is still possible to get to all four in one day. A couple we ran into at the 9 am Four Roses tour and the 11 am Wild Turkey tour were off to Woodford Reserve next and presumably Town Branch later in the afternoon.


Stay tuned for next week's post detailing Day Three: Louisville-area distilleries and museums - Bulleit, Angel’s Envy, and Evan Williams. Cheers 🥃


If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Helpline is a free informational service available 24/7.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail - Day One

Maker's Mark Distillery, Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center 

In the US, legal drinking age is 21. Please drink responsibly.

Maker's Mark

At the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, KY.

At the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, KY.

The highlight of my Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure was during the first stop. I did wait seven years (a quarter of my life!) for it.

Posing with the historic landmark plaque - Maker’s Mark was  the first  Kentucky distillery to earn this honor, in 1980.

Posing with the historic landmark plaque - Maker’s Mark was the first Kentucky distillery to earn this honor, in 1980.

As mentioned in the previous post, my Ambassador barrel was ready so it was time to make the pilgrimage.

The Golden Distillery ticket!

The Golden Distillery ticket!

Maker’s Mark bourbon takes about six to eight years to age-the exact time varies since it’s based on taste. The Maker’s Mark app (iOS and Android) and the Ambassador web portal both show the progress of the barrel.

One of the perks of visiting the distillery as a graduating Ambassador is being able to take a tour for free. At check-in, I received a name tag with Ambassador pin and placed an order for bottles. The bottles would have custom labels with my name and Ambassador information.

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Included in the free tour options is the “Heritage Tour”, only offered on Thursdays at 10 am. This specialty tour is led by Bill Samuels, Jr. - the son of the founder of Maker’s Mark and the immediate-past Chairman of the company.

The Heritage Tour focuses on the history of the company, the family that runs it, and history of the buildings on campus. 

Quart House is touted as the oldest remaining “retail whiskey store”. Mostly I liked that there is a tiny replica hanging from it.

Quart House is touted as the oldest remaining “retail whiskey store”. Mostly I liked that there is a tiny replica hanging from it.

The history of Maker’s Mark is available to read on their website, but the stories have so much more life when told by a man who lived them. Bill Jr talked about how his mom, Margie, made the first bottle of Maker’s Mark as a paper mâché model and the wax dip was done in their family’s turkey fryer. He told stories about driving around *the* Colonel Sanders (of KFC), or how he played Lincoln Logs in the presence of *the* Jim Beam.

Limestone in the water source acts as a natural filter of iron and other minerals that would create undesirable flavors in the end product.

Limestone in the water source acts as a natural filter of iron and other minerals that would create undesirable flavors in the end product.

The tour touched a little bit on the process of bourbon making, though on this particular day we didn’t enter the area where the fermenters or stills were.

For a long time, Maker’s Mark offered only one product, but their range has extended in recent history. Maker’s 46, for example, was the brainchild of Bill Jr. Its unique flavor is due to an extended finishing period in barrels that have French Oak staves.

Cheesin’ in the limestone cave.

Cheesin’ in the limestone cave.

This process occurs in a limestone cave that allows for year-round aging. The cooler conditions force less of the product deep into the wooden staves, which cuts down on the undesirable flavors that longer aging may produce. The Private Select program is an extension of this aging process. Program participants can choose between different wooden stave options for a custom product.

The tour concluded with a tasting of Maker’s White, Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, and Maker’s Mark Private Select (in this case, Maker’s 46 Cask Strength).

While Maker’s Mark will always be the sip that got me into bourbon and is still a solid choice, I may start keeping Maker’s Mark Cask Strength on hand instead of their classic product. It’s what I love about Maker’s, but amped up.

Dale Chihuly glass lights en route to the gift shop from the tasting room.

Dale Chihuly glass lights en route to the gift shop from the tasting room.

After the tasting, we were released into the gift shop. At this point, our tour had run an hour long (worth it!) and the on-site restaurant, Starhill Provisions, had an issue with their coolers and was not able to serve food. My original plan was to grab lunch before heading to the next distillery. That anticipated the tour ending around 12:15 or 12:30 pm and taking about an hour to shop/dip/eat. It was about 1:10 pm when the tour/tasting ended and I made a beeline for dipping.

It was about 1:30 pm when we left for the next distillery…45 minutes away…to make a 2 pm tour…  

KBT Tip: I absolutely recommend the Heritage Tour but would plan to stay longer than the estimated two hours for the tour. Next time, I would even plan for an entire day at Maker’s Mark. I may even stay the night before at the rumored inn on their property. Hopefully, the restaurant would be running and I would be able to try the food, too!


Jim Beam

"Stay on the Beam" wearing a Tessa Louise Slash V-neck tee, Kindred Folk skirt, Hammitt Los Angeles bag, and Adidas Superstars.

"Stay on the Beam" wearing a Tessa Louise Slash V-neck tee, Kindred Folk skirt, Hammitt Los Angeles bag, and Adidas Superstars.

Since lunch plans were thrown off and we were running late to our Jim Beam tour (2 pm), I hoped to get spots on the next tour (2:30 pm) and grab a quick bite at the counter-serve restaurant on Beam’s campus. The 2:30 pm tour was full when we got there, so we were unable to get on a tour that would let out in time for our 4 pm tour at the next distillery.

Bummer, but at least we had time to enjoy lunch and explore the campus. There are no refunds for missed tours, which I knew and accepted at the time of advanced purchase. The representative at the counter was understanding of our situation and offered drink tokens (with a souvenir glass) at the Jim Beam Bourbon Bar as a concession. They didn't need to do so, but I am very grateful they did.

Sippin' on a Bourbon Sour with fresh basil and lemon in front of the Jim Beam Bourbon Bar in Clermont, KY.

Sippin' on a Bourbon Sour with fresh basil and lemon in front of the Jim Beam Bourbon Bar in Clermont, KY.

Beam Suntory is the largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon and one of the largest spirits companies in the world. Not only do they produce Jim Beam, but also brands like Basil Hayden and Knob Creek. Maker’s Mark is also under the Beam Suntory umbrella, though their process remains their own. Other spirits in their portfolio include Pinnacle Vodka, Sauza Tequila, and Courvoisier. When I return, I will make my tour time or take a specialty tour/tasting since their operations are so massive.  

Enjoying the view of the Jim Beam American Stillhouse campus with lunch from Fred’s Smokehouse. My partner and I split Noe’s Nachos, a pulled chicken sandwich, and macaroni and cheese.

Enjoying the view of the Jim Beam American Stillhouse campus with lunch from Fred’s Smokehouse. My partner and I split Noe’s Nachos, a pulled chicken sandwich, and macaroni and cheese.

If I would plan this trip again, I would give myself extra time. Visiting Jim Beam could fit on its own day, with other Louisville area sightseeing, or with visiting the Four Roses Warehouse & Bottling center (which is separate from their distillery).  Jim Beam also has an Urban Stillhouse in Louisville which offers a different experience for those who may not want to or be able to make it out to Clermont.


Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill distillery 80th Anniversary Barrels aging.

Heaven Hill distillery 80th Anniversary Barrels aging.

Heaven Hill was not a name I recognized, but some of the brands under their umbrella - Elijah Craig, Larceny, Rittenhouse - were. Heaven Hill is the second largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Their Bourbon Heritage Center and rickhouses are in Bardstown, KY. 

Evan Williams branding outside Rickhouse Y.

Evan Williams branding outside Rickhouse Y.

Heaven Hill has an impressive amount of multi-story rickhouses.  The rickhouses are not climate controlled, so temperature varies between the bottom and the top, which affects the aging process. The diverse profile of products made by Heaven Hill is sustained in part by that variance in aging. 

Heaven Hill rickhouse with pumb-bob suspension visible.

Heaven Hill rickhouse with pumb-bob suspension visible.

A devastating fire in the distillery's past has led to additional safety measures for the rickhouses. Each structure has berms built around it that would contain flammable liquids in the event of another fire, which would help keep the fire from spreading. The rickhouses each also have a plumb-bob suspended to ensure the building is level to prevent collapse. 

Tastings included a cross-section of their offerings with regard to both mash bill and aging. We tried the Bernheim Wheat (~fourth floor, aged for seven years), Elijah Craig small batch rye bourbon (~fifth floor, aged for 12 years), and Rittenhouse Rye (~first three floors, with the lowest amount of rye that can still be considered a rye whiskey -51%). 

Found a great photo spot outside the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center.

Found a great photo spot outside the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center.

KBT tip: A receipt from the Bourbon Heritage Center gift shop gets $3 off an Evan Williams Bourbon Experience ticket and vice versa.

The classic Mashbill tour is a good option, but Heaven Hill offers specialty experiences as well.  Particularly the "Stay Bonded" experience, touching on the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 and tastings of four Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys.  


Bardstown, KY

Bourbon brought me to Bardstown, but fashion is always something I look out for when I travel.  JT’s Consignments was one of a few shops open til 6 pm (as opposed to 5 or 5:30) so I stopped in.  Very glad I did - bought a few great items to up my fall wardrobe.  

JT’s is very well organized - garment types were clearly labeled and sorted by color.  Is it a treasure trove of luxury designer goods?  No.  But is it very affordable and full of solid, quality items?  Yep!  I noticed a lot of children's clothes also, which seems like a savvy way to shop for little ones. 

Another consignment shop in the area I would like to visit is Gabby’s.  

Buttermilk Days
In my online search for activities in Bardstown, I came across the Buttermilk Days festival. The kickoff event featured a homemade wine tasting/contest and an all-you-can-eat buffet of game meats. Not game meats like venison or buffalo as seen around Minnesota, but game meats like squirrel, ‘coon, and turtle. I stuck to the more conventional offerings like beans, rice, and catfish, but did try the turtle. 

Wine Tasting and Contest at Buttermilk Days 2018

Wine Tasting and Contest at Buttermilk Days 2018

The homemade wine tasting was great - not sure who won the contest but I loved #9! It reminded me a lot of meade.  Besides homemade wine, the Buttermilk Days tasting also offered moonshine and spiked lemonade. Best part - the buffet + wine tasting ticket was only $10.  While clearly a local community gathering with many old friends convening, visitors such as myself and my partner were welcomed and included.  Other Buttermilk Days festivities include live music and a pancake breakfast. 

Mammy’s Kitchen
Since I didn’t get my fill of adventurous eats and the wine was hitting pretty hard, I insisted on grabbing comfort food at Mammy’s.  We ordered sides of Macaroni & Cheese and Cornbread, and some pie to finish the night right. The cornbread was really filling and skillet sized - I took half of it back for breakfast the next day. The pie was great, but much of it had sold out by 8 or 9 pm so if you are looking for pie, I’d suggest getting there earlier. 

Mammy's Kitchen in Bardstown, KY

Mammy's Kitchen in Bardstown, KY


Lessons Learned

Two distilleries in Bardstown that are now on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail are Lux Row Distillers and Bardstown Bourbon Co. To finish the Trail, I’d recommend visiting both of these and Heaven Hill in a day.  As mentioned before, I would save an entire day for Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam, or at least group Jim Beam with Louisville-area activities rather than Bardstown.  

Next time I visit this area, I would love to take a tour of the Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon. A cooperage is where the staves are charred and barrels produced for aging bourbon. Coopers produce staves and vessels for other purposes as well. 

There is a nearby winery that uses berries and other fruits (not grapes!) to produce wines that I would also like to visit- McIntyre’s Winery - McIntyre’s Winery


Stay tuned for next week's post detailing Day Two: Lexington area fun and distilleries - Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Town Branch, and Woodford Reserve.  Cheers 🥃


If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please call SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Helpline is a free informational service available 24/7.

Urban Orchid Takes on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

If you know me, you know I’ve pretty much always been a whiskey girl. 

In a Wild Turkey rickhouse. 

In a Wild Turkey rickhouse. 

I particularly enjoy bourbon so I signed up for the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program shortly after reaching drinking age.  (In the US you must be 21+, enjoy responsibly) The Ambassador program is free to join and is basically the Maker’s Mark fan club/email newsletter - and a smart way to get their existing fans more hyped up and encourage them to spread the love. 

Through the years they have sent email newsletters with sneak peeks of updates regarding the distillery or the company (finished construction of The Cellar for year-round barrel finishing; or announcing the controversial decision to lower the proof of their product - which was met with backlash and the decision reversed before it came to be), invites to official Ambassador events in the area (annual Ambassador celebration in April; free food, swag, bottle engraving, and tastings in honor of the Ryder Cup), invites to events at or near their distillery (exclusive offers for Breeders’ Cup tickets, the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the distillery last year).  

Email invite for an Ambassador event.

Email invite for an Ambassador event.

They have also sent annual Christmas gifts via snail mail: 

Mistletoe!

Mistletoe!

But one of the highlights of the Ambassador program is getting your name on a barrel in the distillery and tracking that barrel through the aging process.  Once the bourbon in the barrel has reached the Maker’s Mark standard of taste, you are invited to visit the distillery, take a tour, and hand-dip bottle(s) containing bourbon from the barrel with your name on it.  Bonus: The bottles you dip and buy also have your name on them!  

They did give ample time to plan the trip - I was notified in late January and given a timeframe of April - September to visit. 


At first, I planned to visit the Maker’s Mark distillery and spend about two days near Loretto, but while trying to find accommodations and other attractions nearby, I stumbled upon the Kentucky Bourbon Trail- a tourism initiative from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.  The concept is pretty simple - get the passport stamped after a tour of each of the distilleries on the list and get a commemorative gift for the effort.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Or, it seemed simple.  At the time I was looking into the Trail in February 2018, ten distilleries were listed and the finisher prize was a t-shirt.  By the time I was actually booking airfare and tour tickets in July 2018, there were 13 distilleries and the finisher prize was a tasting glass.  (The finisher t-shirt still exists, but must be purchased)

After a lot of spreadsheets and mental gymnastics, knowing my travel schedule and budget couldn’t shift too much, my travel partner and I decided to go forward with visiting the original ten and enjoy what we could of the area, rather than rushing to make all 13 just to get the prize.  (Side note: the tour and hand-dip experience were extended to me as a Maker’s Mark Ambassador for free, but the bottles I dipped and the entirety of the rest of my trip including but not limited to airfare, car rental, hotel, food, etc. I paid for myself/split with my partner) 


So…Mission Accomplished?

Yes and no.  We made it to the original ten distilleries on a legacy version of the Passport (picked up in person at one of the distilleries, not printed from online) but hit a timing snag at one location; though were still able to complete the passport and pick up the finisher tasting glass. 

The last stamp on the tour.

The last stamp on the tour.

Getting There

Flying Southwest Airlines is still my favorite way to travel by plane - when I was in college it was the cheapest way to get between school in Chicago and my family in Las Vegas.  They have pretty solid pricing out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, but are located in the smaller terminal (T2/Humphrey).  Also, they don’t charge for the first two checked bags and that is crucial when traveling with a lot of toiletries or especially with bourbon.  (Note: There is a limit to how much alcohol can be transported in a checked suitcase without being seized - be aware of these restrictions when shopping along the trail. 

We opted to fly into Louisville and rent a car from the airport.  Lexington is the other major airport along the Trail, but it was more expensive for the dates and times desired.  

The Ride

We rented a car through Alamo but booked with our airfare via Southwest.  They had the best pricing, especially for the “young driver” fee.  I hate driving so my partner, who is under 25, would be driving and we needed to factor in the extra cost.  We reserved a compact car, but when we got to the rental car desk, the options were limited and we ended up with a pick-up truck - which worked just fine.  It felt safer than a smaller car on some of the winding roads next to semi-trucks.  

Posing with the truck, wearing the Fashionopolis 2017 Statement Piece Tee with an  Alice Riot  skirt in front of the Lebanon, KY x Maker's Mark water tower!

Posing with the truck, wearing the Fashionopolis 2017 Statement Piece Tee with an Alice Riot skirt in front of the Lebanon, KY x Maker's Mark water tower!

The Digs

Since the original plan was centered around Maker’s Mark, I wanted to stay nearest to Loretto.  I considered searching for an Airbnb but without being familiar with the area or having a real plan or at the time of booking, nixed the idea and focused on hotels.  The Hampton Inn Lebanon had the best rates vs reviews compared to others in the area.  There were some gorgeous inns and bed-and-breakfasts nearby but none I had the budget for, sadly.  

The Hampton Inn was very accommodating of late check-in needs and was clean and quiet.  I was pleasantly surprised that the bathroom had a pretty decent amount of vanity counter space.  Amenities included free wi-fi and free breakfast in the morning.  The breakfast offerings were limited, especially for those with dietary restrictions, but were about what I expected and provided some sustenance before getting to a tour/tasting.  I did find that the weekend breakfast offerings were somehow better than the weekday offerings.  Bonus: Lebanon, KY's water tower is Maker's Mark themed, with a mural by Eric Henn:

ETC

I brought a bunch of snacks (pretzels, chips, trail mix, etc), a small cooler, and a couple reusable water bottles in my checked bag.  Road trip snacks took up room in my bag on the way in but were mostly depleted and left room for purchases on the way out.  This also cut down on any impulse convenience store buys.  Also, staying hydrated between bourbon tastings was important so a cooler full of cold water was key.  It was helpful also for keeping bourbon chocolates from melting in the summer sun.  And on the way back, the cooler was great for packing away the commemorative tasting glasses and even one bottle of bourbon, with less fear they would somehow get broken in transit.  

Everything made it!  

Everything made it!  


Overall, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a great experience for first-time visitors to Kentucky who are casual bourbon fans.  The surge in popularity of bourbon and bourbon tourism has created some changes for the KDA, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, so be aware of changes and allow more time than I did to be able to complete the latest version(s).  There are many distilleries in Kentucky that are not part of the trail initiatives that are certainly worth visiting or learning more about, as well as a number of museums or historical sites.  The Corvette Museum, Mary Todd Lincoln House, and Muhammad Ali Center are some of the major museums near the Bourbon Trail distilleries. 

Tasting offerings at the Bulleit/Stitzel-Weller distillery experience.

Tasting offerings at the Bulleit/Stitzel-Weller distillery experience.

When I travel with myself or a partner, rather than going somewhere new (like when I travel with my family), I tend to visit my favorite cities and partake in a mix of favorite things and new things.  After completing the KBT, I feel that I will happily add Kentucky to my rotation of favorite places to visit, aiming to go back to some of my favorite places from this trip and make it out to some of the places I couldn’t get to or didn’t know about yet.  

The Woodford Reserve distillery had me all 😍.  Wearing a  Tessa Louise  top and thrifted skirt.  

The Woodford Reserve distillery had me all 😍.  Wearing a Tessa Louise top and thrifted skirt.  

Stay tuned every Tuesday in September as I celebrate National Bourbon Heritage month with the day-by-day breakdown of my Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure - including getting to ten distilleries in three days, consignment store shopping, moonshine and game meats, a mural hunting challenge, having a Carrie Underwood inspired moment, and some of my lessons learned from the experience.  Cheers 🥃🥃

The New Way Forward for Green Building Design

Part of what inspired me to write about sustainable and ethical fashion was my educational and professional background in green building design.  These talents and interests recently combined when I was tasked with a new assignment at work.  After attending a regional USGBC conference, I had the opportunity to share some of what I learned in my first (but hopefully not last) post on my company's blog: https://lhbblog.com/2018/06/18/usgbc-impact-2018-three-elements-to-the-new-way-forward/ 

Please give it a read - I am excited to be part of this industry and for the new direction that leaders in sustainable building design are headed. 

 

LPF Productions Streetwear Fashion Show

    Mimi Nguyen made a Minneapolis return with her streetwear label Melevated at Prive on April 29, 2018.  The show, hosted by fellow Minnesota ex-pat and recording artist Finding Novyon highlighted under-the-radar designers on a “Fast and the Furious” inspired runway.   

LPF Streetwear Fashion Show runway.

LPF Streetwear Fashion Show runway.

    A self-taught designer driven to do whatever the hell she wants, Mimi put a lot of effort into organizing a Minneapolis event while back-and-forth between here and Los Angeles and putting together her collection (and making me a custom gown for a formal event…but that’s a story for another time).  

    The event was organized by LPF Productions and Guild Apparel with sponsors PRIVE MINNEAPOLIS, Pledge Empire Records, Global Impex USA, and PARKER XL.

    It’s a passion of Mimi’s to support underrepresented designers (and musicians) by connecting them with a crowd that is seeking something new or different.  My only wish is that more and more people get behind it!  The show may not have the buzz of more established Minnesota fashion events, but the talent is just as worthy of attention. 


The Clothes

Lighthearted casual wear from Chill Vibes:


The Brick Bow Tie Collection from Ice Cream Bow Ties 

FYI, Ice Cream Bow Ties was founded by a very ambitious (and dapper!) youth: 

Ice Cream Bow Ties founder Aniki Allen

Ice Cream Bow Ties founder Aniki Allen


Thought-provoking screen prints from LIFE Custom Clothing


Cool crop tops from Supply Mpls 


Sleek and metropolitan looks from RHEY Apparel, who has since been featured at the Northern Vogue fashion show and The Volk’s summer fashion show, and whose founder will be speaking at a Fashion Group International event later this summer.  


Sassy stoner apparel from Got Loud?


And of course, aggressively sexy streetwear and luxe jackets from Melevated.
Sidenote: Mimi’s attitude in life can be summed up by the fact that she opened her own damn show.  

Melevated designer + owner Mimi Nguyen

Melevated designer + owner Mimi Nguyen


The Music

Musical performances peppered the intermissions between runway segments.  

Kiyanna Ma  killin' it on stage.

Kiyanna Ma killin' it on stage.

Outfitted in Melevated, Kiyanna Ma really got the crowd riled up.  Her song “Bossay” still gets stuck in my head: 

  Another musical highlight was Paige Ellis wearing Got Loud?  Paige will also be performing at Culture Piece Magazine's 2 Year Anniversary event on June 24.

Paige Ellis

Paige Ellis

  Other musical performances included Yung Wes, Mr. Newz, Ced Linus, Sti-Lo Reel, Blond Todd, and DjAirmanheat. 


    Learning from experience is a side-effect of Mimi's gusto for creating and her time working and growing on the west coast seems to have helped her focus.  It’s great to see her flourishing in Los Angeles and making time to contribute to the Minnesota fashion community.  

    Expect more sexy streetwear and lots of surprises at the next LPF show at Prive on Sunday, August 5, 2018.  Tickets available now via Eventbrite and are $20.

34849003_10212009491898092_2127119945329278976_n.jpg

    In addition to returning lines Melevated, Got Loud?, Chill Vibes, and LIFE Custom Clothing, the show will feature Lavish Denim, Penash, ICARUS, PAPARAZZI FLASH, and Che Couture.