Traveling to the Maker’s Mark distillery happens to be a very interesting experience, even if your not a bourbon drinker.
When traveling to the Maker’s Mark distillery, I made the observation that basically the majority of people going through the distillery tour seemed to be having an exceptionally good time. I know most people would falsely contribute that to possibly sampling of the bourbon, however the actual reason behind the fun filled experience is the overwhelming care and pride that all the employees of the distillery have in their outstanding bourbon.
For a truly unique experience I highly recommend that anytime you may be traveling on Western Kentucky Parkway near Elizabethtown, that you stray down to the quaint town of Loretto. The Maker’s Mark distillery is located in Loretto, just Southeast of Elizabethtown at 3350 Burks Spring Rd.
Tours at the Distillery are free of charge and conducted approximately every 30 minutes or so daily between 10:30 am to approximately 3:30 pm, however tours on Sundays are conducted every hour between 1:30pm and approximately 3:30pm only. It is always best to call before coming to make sure it the tours are running, because the tours are seasonal and the tours are not conducted on major holidays. For directions and information call 270-865-2099.
Everyone can take the tour, however you must be 21 years old in order to dip your own bourbon bottle into the wax.
The Maker’s Mark distillery has a very unique and clever distilling process. They use iron free limestone spring water and their source for the spring water is a large 10 acre spring fed body of water located adjacent to the distillery.
The distillery is also known for clever and precise picking of its grains, the bourbon is made with red winter wheat and yellow corn grains. The wheat makes the bourbon have a mellow and mild decadent taste. Maker’s Mark distillery also only uses barley that is naturally malted.
A huge roller-mill is used in preparing the grains for the bourbon cooking process, although the roller-mill is slow and only produces a small yield at any given time, the cookers said it prevents scorching of the grain and that provides for a better overall product.
The distillery doesn’t pressure cook the grains because its not good to use pressure cooking on winter wheat grains. The bourbon is hand cooked in order to provide the bourbon with a mellow and smooth grain flavor.
Maker’s Mark is also one of few distilleries that propagate their own yeast for the fermentation process and the sour mash method is much like that of making sourdough bread, which with every batch leaves a starter for the next batch.
Maker’s Mark also has some very rare fermentation tanks made of cypress and according to the tour guide priceless. The use of cypress was chosen before they started using stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of cypress keep the bourbon from having a iron taste. The cypress fermentation process is still in use today because the people at Maker’s Mark believe that there is no reason to change a perfect product.
The distillery also uses a double distillery process on its bourbon, which removes any impurities and provides for an exceptionally refined final product and although the whole cooking and fermentation process is time consuming and expensive it makes for a better bourbon with a more pronounced mellow grain taste.
During the aging process the barrels get rotated regularly, this process of rotation ensures that the each barrel’s aging process is the identical. Rotation of the barrels also ensures that the barrels don’t gather moss.
The distillery also has a bourbon tasting panel to provide them with an impartial viewpoint on the end product. This unbiased panel is the last step to ensure that Maker’s Mark continues to be an exceptionally high quality bourbon.
References for this article include: www.whisky.com/distilleries/makers_mark_distillery.html