“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” –Maya Angelou
Our second stop on our way north for the season was Bardstown, KY. We love to explore little out of the way small towns and when they're labeled the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America”, well we're truly interested. Bardstown is also known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World” and is home to nine notable distilleries including Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Bardstown Bourbon Co. We spent our day wandering through the shops in town and visiting a couple of distilleries.
The Old Courthouse built in 1892 stands in the middle of town. The roads all were built around this building leading out from there. It's now used as a visitor center.
Looking down 3rd Street to the old courthouse. (photo from visitbardstown.com) The town is full of little boutiques, antique shops and restaurants.
The Old Talbott Tavern, which sits across from the courthouse, was built in 1779. Visitors in the 19th century included future presidents Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln. Other prominent figures who visited the tavern were Henry Clay, environmentalist John Audubon and Jesse James. The Tavern currently serves as both a restaurant and a five-room bed and breakfast and was once ranked the 13th most haunted inn in the United States. We didn't see any ghosts while we had dinner there.
Maker's Mark has been distilling their bourdon on this site since they were founded in 1953, but there has been a distillery on this site since 1805. The first distillery was known as Burks' Mill and Distillery. You can read about the history and its founders at this site.
The Maker's Mark grounds are beautiful. They give tours of their distillery daily, but since it was a Saturday the tours were all full. We had a tasting as we wandered around and enjoyed the beautiful day.
Willett Distillery, also known as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. was founded in 1936. It's a private family-owned and -operated company that produces bourbon and rye whiskey. The family has been involved in making whiskey since 1684.
This is a Rickhouse. It's a tall rectangular structure designed solely for storing and aging distilled spirits. It allows barrels to rest on their sides. They're primarily made of wood, brick, stone or metal and constructed to be about seven stories high. Their overall size and construction materials significantly impact the temperature consistency inside as most aren't climate controlled. The fluctuation of temperatures, especially during the winter and summer months, is what pulls the spirits in and out of the wooden barrel. This process is what gives the spirit its color, flavor, and aromas.
The inside of a rickhouse.