Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bourbon Trail, Four Roses

The ghosts of Downton Tucky were haunting the first night. I was texting SDM, Hedda and Katiecakes at 11:30 pm asking them to hush up please oh please with snoring emojis and hopes of sweet solice. Fat chance. They showed up in our bedroom, candles blazing! E. was so tired he doesn't even remember waking up. Ha! Tap dancing? Loud music and spirited card games were taking place below our room and I ended up reading until about 12:30 am when the manor finally fell quiet. I'm now the old lady in the group. What the hell happened?

We woke up to the most perfect, PERFECT spring day for our bourbon trail. Just a tiny chill in the air.

The party barge was gassed and ready. 

We were off, lights blinking, the control freaks, freaking out about car sickness (me included) and friends doing chin ups before the first sips.

Our first stop of three on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was Four Roses

Bourbon, like champagne is specific to place. Bourbon can only come from America and the name is controversial. Some say it comes from the name Bourbon County, KY. Others say it comes from the House of Bourbon dating back to the 13th century in France. Others still say its named from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. There is a great article from the Smithsonian discussing this debate:
Though the Filson Historical Society is home to bourbon labels printed as early as the 1850s, he says, “the story that the name ‘bourbon’ comes from Bourbon County doesn’t even start appearing in print until the 1870s.” Instead, Veach believes the name evolved in New Orleans after two men known as the Tarascon brothers arrived to Louisville from south of Cognac, France, and began shipping local whiskey down the Ohio River to Louisiana’s bustling port city. “They knew that if Kentuckians put their whiskey into charred barrels they could sell it to New Orleans’ residents, who would like it because it tastes more like cognac or ‘French brandy’,” says Veach.

My favorite fact of the day was learning about the angel's share. A chemical releases when the alcohol evaporates and turns the trees black near the stills.

We watched a video before heading off with Alec, donning our earphones due to the noise in the distillery. 

The roses represented a corsage worn to say yes to a proposal by wearing a four rose corsage to a dance.

The barrels are aged in the buildings across the street. The barrels on the top floors get hotter than the barrels on the bottom floors. They are one of the only distilleries to have a single story rack. They rent the upper floors to other brands.

This guy was cleaning out a grain silo.

Industrial buildings make me go weak in the knees. 

We climbed the stairs inside and were hit immediately with the smell of yeast; notes of homemade bread and oatmeal wafted in the air. It was warmer and Alec opened the tub to show the fireworks of bubbles in action.

I should remember the process of how bourbon is made better. Alec was a great tour guide and really informative. Watching the yeast bubbles at work was neat (3rd grade report term).

What was really neat was that we got to taste the mash. The corn stuff. It tasted a little bit like oatmeal and crunchy corn bits. The cows get the reserved mash. Yum.

Sexy building.

The mash is put in the beer still and the plates catch the alcohol...I think. You could see the stuff bubble up. We all kind of felt like we were in a grown up Willy Wonka factory.

The White Dog or moonshine is kept under lock and key in this box. This is what goes into the charred oak barrels for aging.


After the tour, we had our own private gazebo for our tasting. It was a highlight of the day. If you go, ask for the gazebo for your tasting place.

One of the attendees created a custom Bourbon Trail Passport for the Katonycakes adventures. The single barrel was my favorite because it was so smooth. This means it comes from one barrel, not blended with other barrels, from I'm assuming different levels of storage. The Yellow Label was Alec's "easy drinking" bourbon for Monday-Friday. The Four Roses Small batch was good too. But the single barrel was just delicious. 

I snuck the Four Roses glass in my purse and then found out I didn't have to steal it. It was part of the entrance fee.

The Salt River or Cox Creek. Not sure which one.

I got a bourbon blush from the three flights.

Alec took this great group photo and Katie's brother and sister-in-law joined us. 

Looking back over the day, this was by far the best experience. The tour guide was super informative but not boring. The location was beautiful. The gift shop well appointed. And tasting outside without having to feel rushed was so lovely.  I should have bought the single barrel while there.