The Brew Chef Travels - Louisville
When there is a big event to celebrate, we generally try to celebrate with a trip. David had a
big birthday and since he is a bourbon fan (maybe super fan is a better term). We had to go to bourbon country to celebrate his big day! There are so many iconic things about bourbon country. Neither of us had been before so it was great to go and learn about the history, horses and of course the bourbon!
When I looked at places to stay, there were lots of options for places and sure we could get points, but for the real Kentucky feel I had to book The Brown Hotel. Since we were going to learn a little while we were there it only made sense to stay at a historic hotel. Also, you cannot go to Louisville without having a Hot Brown. Since it originated at The Brown Hotel, it made sense to stay there. The Hot Brown was created as a hangover cure, we thought we might need that given the whole purpose of our trip was bourbon tasting!
We started day 1 with a Bourbon Tour from Mint Julep Tours. We met at their location in downtown Louisville with a plan to visit three distilleries – Heaven Hill Distillery, Barton 1792 and Makers Mark. Heaven Hill was a quick video view and then a tasting, Elijah Craig and McKenna were our favorites. Next back in the van and headed to Barton 1792. When we started out on our tour a grain truck had just come in to drop a load of corn. Amazing to see that dropped off.
The tour of the distillery was really interesting, we started the beginning of our education on how to make whiskey. I learned one valuable lesson, don’t drink the white dog! The coolest part of this tour was it was the first time we set foot in a Rickhouse. The smell that embraces you when you step in is amazing. A visit to the gift shop and we were off to Makers Mark. This distillery is definitely not a small operation. We took the tour and learned more about bourbon making. I
think the biggest thing about Makers is that they have established a world recognized brand from the red wax. The best part about that was buying and dipping your own bottle. Probably as close to real bourbon making as we will ever get. The Chihuly displays around the grounds and in the
buildings were amazing! Almost as good as the bourbon.
A behind the scenes walking tour of Churchill Downs was on the list for day 2. This tour only happens on non-race days and can be booked through the Kentucky Derby Museum. I have been watching the Kentucky Derby for as long as I can remember so visiting the site of the actual event was so cool.
The best parts of this tour were seeing Millionaires Row (pretty sure I won’t be able to watch the derby from there anytime soon). The other was seeing the glass blown replica of a derby race.
I can only imagine the energy at that location on race day. Fingers crossed we will get to see it someday. Since we were so close, we jumped over to the Stitzel-Weller Distillery to do a tasting of Bulleit. This is where we found Blade & Bow, one of the favorite bourbons we found on this trip.
Since we have never seen it in Utah, we get a bottle every time we are out east. Get one! You will not be disappointed.
We set aside a whole day for Buffalo Trace. This is David’s favorite bourbon, so we had to spend some time at the mothership. After visiting Churchill Downs, we decided it might be nice to check out a horse farm and we had a little time before our tour at Buffalo Trace. Some random Google searching led us to Winstar Farms.
Our visit was in March of 2018, a few months ahead of the Kentucky Derby. We got our picture taken with a Derby winner, Super Saver. I loved seeing the horses and learning about the breeding process. I didn’t know that these horses are beautiful, but they aren’t nice. They are bred that way, to be competitive.
They also live very pampered lives, which based on the amount of money they make from breeding, they deserve that life. A few months after our return we got to watch Justify from Winstar Farms win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. So cool!
We finally made it to Buffalo Trace and did the Hard Hat Tour. One thing I didn’t realize is that this is the longest operating distillery in the United States. Through prohibition and all the challenges, they have maintained. We learned about the process and the biggest thing that surprised me was the volume. As the cocktail tastes of the general public change it drastically effects these distillers.
Back when vodka became a big thing, whiskey suffered. Thankfully, they have recovered and are years away from meeting the demand. If you need a reference, try to get a bottle of Buffalo Trace in Utah whenever you want.
Overall, we learned so much about bourbon and horses. We met great people and visited some amazing places. We will definitely be back (hopefully for Derby). If you think of any place we need to visit on our next trip, let us know in the comments. If you need any tips on bourbon making, we can help with that too!