Well, I,m not really a bourbon drinker, but, why not go and see how it's made? So, we did.
From Wiki: Maker’s Mark is a small-batch bourbon whisky that is distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, by Beam Suntory. It is sold in distinctively squarish bottles, which are sealed with red wax, and bottled at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume). The distillery offers tours, and is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Their grounds were manicured nicely. And there red trim around the windows and doors were in the identical red of the wax seal on each bottle. The owner's wife thought of the idea.
This place is out in the middle of no where, as are most of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. Maker's Mark is actually listed as a National Historic Site.
OK, enough of the outside. Now for a few picks of the inside. This happened to be a Saturday, and it was August, which meant two things: Small workforce, and no fermentation vats cooking any product. Remember, bourbon has to be at least 51% corn, and it was near the very end of corn supplies from the previous year's harvest. And the current harvest was at least three weeks away from beginning. We learned that all of their corn is supplied from farms within a 50 mile radius.
Miss Nancy waiting to come up the steps to view the 7 large cooking vats, that were all dry and empty. Below, our tour guide, Tammy. She was barely old enough to go in, as you had to be 21.
From Wiki: Maker's Mark is aged for around six years, being bottled and marketed when the company's tasters agree that it is ready. Maker's Mark is one of the few distillers to rotate the barrels from the upper to the lower levels of the aging warehouses during the aging process to even out the differences in temperature during the process. The upper floors are exposed to the greatest temperature variations during the year, so rotating the barrels ensures that the bourbon in all the barrels have the same quality and taste. They explained this procedure when we were in their original Rickhouse.
Not sure what all these gizmos do, but I do know they were filling the bottles, making boxes, dipping the bottles in a tub of hot wax, and putting the bottles in six pack boxes for shipping.
Above, the lid tub ad below, I'm not sure. We couldn't hear Tammy very well in here as it was rather noisy.
The operator and workers had very little to do as the line was pretty much all mechanized with computers.
This day's production was their flagship brand, and not the lesser known Maker's 46. Below, the hot wax station...there was two people dipping the bottles, and it appeared they were giving the bottles a little twist as they raised the bottles up, so as to give the drips and artistic flair. They actually have a name for these little drips, but I can't remember what they said.
From Wiki: Maker's Mark bourbon has earned solid marks at international Spirit ratings competitions. Its primary bourbon earned a gold medal at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirit Ratings Competition and a score of 90–95 from Wine Enthusiast in 2007. The Maker's Mark 46—which benefits from longer aging and exposure to toasted French oak staves—has earned similar ratings.
Note the modest intensity the "dipper" has while bringing the bottle back up out of the hot wax tub. And the way below he is about to give the bottle that little artist''s twist.
The boxing station.
And the part that all the folks were waiting for: The tasting room! They had four little glasses full (well, not full) of their famous product, in various stages of aging. Maker's Mark is unusual in that no rye is used as part of the mash. Instead red winter wheat is used, along with corn (the predominant grain)
and malted barley. The first two samples were not tasty, and they were drawn from barrels that were "early". The last two were the Maker's Mark and Makers 46.
Well, that's about all I have for you on the distillery tour. So, until the next blog (Louisville Slugger), Joe & Nancy, the RVing Beach Bums signing off from Hibbing, Minnesota, Sept 10.