We left you with a "taste" of Bardstown yesterday. Today you'll get more of the sights and flavors of this historical, "Norman Rockwell" kind of place. Our first destination was a famous bourbon joint - Maker's Mark Distillery. We'd heard a lot about its beautiful grounds and decided to make a beeline there. We had enough white knuckle drives during our previous 5,000+ miles of highways and byways, and didn't anticipate more. Leaving Bardstown on 4 lane roads, we were soon on a 2 lane country road that ended up becoming a twisting ONE lane farm road for the last 3 miles. Think "Silent Scream"!
The road had extreme curves and blind spots that made it impossible to see if cars or trucks, or stray dogs and wandering red foxes, were coming at you. So much for what we thought would be a nice leisurely ride in the country. WRONG! The trip there was a nightmare. Slow and steady wins the race, they say. We were crawling. BUT, finally, there in the distance...Maker's Mark Distillery.
The bourbon gets its name from the "maker's marks" that pewter smiths put on their best work. The logo on the label contains meaningful nods to the new bourbon's founder, Bill Samuels, Sr. The star represents Star Hill Farm, where the family lived and where the Distillery is located. The SIV symbolizes "S" for Samuels and the Roman numeral IV is for Bill's status as a fourth generation distiller. As for the distinctive red wax dripping from the top of the bottle, Samuels wife Margie came up with that idea to ensure the bottle stood out on the store shelf. Even though every bottle of Makers Mark will taste the same, thanks to those red tendrils, no two bottles will look the same. When Bill and Margie's son took over the business in 1975, his father's only words of advice were "Don't screw up the whiskey"! Apparently he followed his dads advice.
The grounds and buildings are stunning. Star Hill Farms is a National Historic Landmark and consists of over 1,000 acres of beautifully preserved structures and landscaping.
The folks in the information center were friendly; however, this critter outside the building coulda given two whits about us being there. At first "Whiskers" looked "expired". But, we saw his tail twitch ever so slightly, so we chalked his/her unfriendliness up to being tired - or drunk.
"So, a cat walks into a bar..."
The Maker's Mark grounds have many nods to its history, including this preserved Quart House. This is the building where customers would pull up in the horses and wagons to buy bourbon. Oak barrels like the one in this picture are still used today and every one of them is still hand-turned.
This wagon is how bourbon barrels were transported back in the day.
The grounds were truly park-like. We came upon this strange looking building which, as it turns out, represents Maker's Mark's commitment to employee safety. Not only is it a limestone cellar (where 2,000 barrels of bourbon are stored), it's also designated as a tornado "safe house".
With safety in mind, we decided to head back to town using a much less stressful route, thanks to the guidance we received from the Distillery staff. It was lunchtime, and we knew from the day before where we were going to chow down: Hurst Discount Drugs.
We were lucky enough to find a booth to watch all the "happenings" at the soda fountain counter.
Bart had his eye on "The Famous Chicken Salad Sandwich".
But, wait. Is there something wrong with this picture? This may be a first...when did turkey become the new chicken?
After leaving this wonderful "ode to the 50s" luncheonette, we headed over to the Bardstown Visitor's Center to chat with the staff and tell them how amazing their town and the area was. The sign in front of the old courthouse says it well: "Welcome to Bardstown, Bourbon Capital of the World". They'll get no argument from us.
The next (and final) leg of the Discover Small Town America Tour 2.0 will take us back to where we started: Longboat Key, Florida. Stay tuned for our final Road Report Wrap-Up.
NOTE: We forgot to post the mileage mark we achieved several days ago, just before arriving in Papillion, NE. Here goes...