It was raining by the time we left Heaven Hill. The other tour we were planing to take this day was Maker’s Mark. We expected that by the time we got down there we would be too late for the next tour and would need to wait around. It was still raining when we got to Maker’s Mark. The tour was just leaving the building where they start and we were told to tag along.
The first thing we got to see was an old house that the founders of the company once lived in. We were told that nothing really is done with it, but that they show it off now and then. We were then given a bit of the history of the company. How the original company president had inherited a recipe that was terrible and he set out to find a better one with the help of his wife the bread baker. Nice story, some of it might even be true.
After that we enter a beautiful building. Large, exposed timber frame beams holding up the building. This place was beautiful. There was a portion of the column still showing through the floor and the decorative spouts that the distilled spirits flowed through on it’s way to the holding tanks or the doubler still.
Next we were led into the room that holds the fermenting tanks. They used a mixture of wood tanks and stainless. The tour guide didn’t let us see the stainless ones, claiming these looked more interesting.
After the fermenting tanks the tour guide stopped for questions. One person asked about the origins of bourbon. (This leads me to believe that they didn’t show the normal movie at the beginning.) The tour guide fumbled for her words a bit before saying that Bourbon was the name of the French kings and the people who originally came to Kentucky were French so they named the drink after the king. If this is the truth then every other distillery lied to us. Or the tour guide was no good off script.
For the next stop, we were taken to an aging warehouse. This was a showplace of a warehouse. Like most of them, you could tell that this was set up for people to see. There were decorative barrels commemorating the last barrel under the old president and the first under the new. We got a small lecture including the tip that they rotate the barrels around the warehouses to ensure even climactic conditions.
I guess this means no single barrel Maker’s since this would theoretically minimize the barrel to barrel differences.
You walk through the warehouse after the lecture and walk into the gift shop. This was the coolest part of the tour. This place is a cross between a mall store and the coolest night club you can imagine. There should have been some jazz playing over the speakers and a Playboy Bunny serving you drinks. All honey colored wood and red accents. The thing I liked best was the ability to dip your own bottle. I did a terrible job, but will aways have the memento of the trip.
Overall, the tour was short, didn’t go into many details or show you much. The tour guide didn’t know anything but what she was coached to say and as such made me wonder if anything she said was accurate. But the place was gorgeous and I recommend taking the tour just to see it and hope for a more knowledgeable tour guide. You get a tasting at the end and the product is good. In any case go into the gift shop and buy a bottle to dip. It is the coolest and most prized souvenir I have from the entire bourbon trail trip. This was not a bad tour. I think we just got a bad tour guide.