Visiting Maker’s Mark Distillery

On a beautiful fall weekend, Nathan and I drove down to Kentucky to visit the Maker’s Mark Distillery. A few years ago, Nathan signed up for the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program. As a part of that membership, his name was added to a barrel of bourbon and with that, the five-to-seven-year time clock for the aging process begins. When bourbon tasters decide it’s ready, you are invited to visit the distillery in Loretto, go on a tour, and purchase bottles from your barrel!

Bourbon is an American distilled, barrel-aged spirit which falls under the larger whiskey umbrella. You may notice an odd spelling of whiskey on a bottle of Maker’s. A nod to the founders’ Scottish heritage, they use the Scotch spelling of ‘whisky.’ What I was most looking forward to on our tour was the chance to dip the bottles we were to purchase in the signature red wax. We learned that the founder, Bill Samuels Sr. had a marvelous marketer in his wife, Margie. She was the one who came up with the idea for the red wax on the bottle neck based on her collection of old French cognac bottles. She is also credited with naming of the brand itself, as well as the logo and the label design. When naming the new bourbon, she was inspired by the ‘maker’s marks’ that pewter smiths put on their very best work. For the Samuels’ mark, the star is borrowed from the family farm, ‘Star Hill Farm,’ the S is for ‘Samuels’ and the IV is for the fourth generation distiller (Bill Sr.) who created the bourbon. Amazingly, each bottle of Maker’s Mark you see on a shelf is still dipped by hand!

If you have time for only one distillery tour on Kentucky’s Bourbon trail, it should be Maker’s Mark. The grounds are beautifully kept, the guides and staff are incredibly warm and welcoming, the tour is five-star fun and informative, the gift shop is pretty much a candy store. And lunch at their restaurant, Star Hill Provisions cannot be missed — an elevated take on Southern comfort classics. We left with plenty of souvenirs. Soon, I’ll be using a bottle of Maker’s Mark to make a new batch of homemade bourbon vanilla extract (I keep a vodka-based vanilla extract on hand I made a few years ago). I look forward to a return visit when face masks are no longer a thing!


One-lane country road to Maker’s Mark

One-lane country road to Maker’s Mark


Maker’s Mark built its history on an older distillery when its founder T. William "Bill" Samuels Sr. bought it in 1953.

Maker’s Mark built its history on an older distillery when its founder T. William “Bill” Samuels Sr. bought it in 1953.


Ready for a socially distant day of bourbon tasting!

Ready for a socially distant day of bourbon tasting!


The Maker’s Mark logo where the S stands for ‘Samuels’ and IV stands for the 4th generation distiller who created this brand. The star is  for Star Hill Farm, the Bardstown farm where the Samuels family resided.

The Maker’s Mark logo where the S stands for ‘Samuels’ and IV stands for the 4th generation distiller who created this brand. The star is for Star Hill Farm, the Bardstown farm where the Samuels family resided.


A lovely place to rock on a fall day.

A lovely place to rock on a fall day.


Maker’s Mark DIstillery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Maker’s Mark DIstillery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.


Grounds at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, KY

Grounds at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, KY


Grounds at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, KY

Grounds at Maker’s Mark in Loretto, KY


Maker’s Mark is considered ‘small batch’ bourbon and is one of the few distillers to rotate these 500-pound barrels from the upper to the lower levels of the aging warehouses during the aging process.

Maker’s Mark is considered ‘small batch’ bourbon and is one of the few distillers to rotate these 500-pound barrels from the upper to the lower levels of the aging warehouses during the aging process.


“The Bourbon Church” where Maker’s 46 is made.

“The Bourbon Church” where Maker’s 46 is made.


Barrels of Maker’s 46

Barrels of Maker’s 46


Our wax-dipped tasting glasses which we got to take home!

Our wax-dipped tasting glasses which we got to take home!


…and my manicure just happened to match the wax perfectly.

…and my manicure just happened to match the wax perfectly.


We sampled six different bourbons including the original Maker’s Mark , Maker’s 46, Wood Finishing Series (2020 release), Cask Strength (which is the original Maker’s but at full barrel-strength proof, and is recommended for cocktails), Maker’s Mark…

We sampled six different bourbons including the original Maker’s Mark , Maker’s 46, Wood Finishing Series (2020 release), Cask Strength (which is the original Maker’s but at full barrel-strength proof, and is recommended for cocktails), Maker’s Mark 101 and Maker’s Mark Private Select Tasting Panel (created by blending bourbons aged in barrels with a combination of ten oak staves (five types of staves to select from) which impart unique flavors).


Our goodie bags which included a barrel bung (like the cork for a barrel) and bottle labels.

Our goodie bags which included a barrel bung (like the cork for a barrel) and bottle labels.


In the gift shop, we were invited to dip our own bottles in the signature red wax.

In the gift shop, we were invited to dip our own bottles in the signature red wax.


Proper technique is to dip the bottle neck about mid way, then hold the bottle at a 90-degree angle over the wax to allow excess wax to drip off , then set it on the counter before completely cooling, allowing it to form the characteristic drips.

Proper technique is to dip the bottle neck about mid way, then hold the bottle at a 90-degree angle over the wax to allow excess wax to drip off , then set it on the counter before completely cooling, allowing it to form the characteristic drips.


Visiting Maker's Mark Distillery | @beesandbubbles


I wore the largest sleeves possible for my wax-dipping debut.

I wore the largest sleeves possible for my wax-dipping debut.


My Lebanon Iced Tea Cocktail at Star Hill Provisions — Maker’s Mark, Black Tea, Thyme, Rose Water, Honey, Cardamom, Pomegranate, & Pine Nuts

My Lebanon Iced Tea Cocktail at Star Hill Provisions — Maker’s Mark, Black Tea, Thyme, Rose Water, Honey, Cardamom, Pomegranate, & Pine Nuts


Nathan’s bourbon tasting flight

Nathan’s bourbon tasting flight


Classic Southern fare

Classic Southern fare


Cheers!

Cheers!

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