Bourbon ages in new, charred, white oak barrels in a Heaven Hill rickhouse in Bardstown, Kentucky.
I’ve always thought that a Scotch drinker could never enjoy bourbon, but one of Kentucky’s finest — Maker’s Mark — proved me wrong. The golden liquid was smooth…sweet…and an unexpected delight.
Bardstown, which sits on the Bourbon Trail in the heart of bourbon country, boasts several distilleries. All offer free tours.
To make sure my positive reaction to bourbon wasn’t a fluke, the next day we visited Heaven Hill Distilleries. Their tasting room provided samples of two single barrel bourbons: Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. Exquisite!
Here’re some fascinating facts about bourbon that I picked up during the fun and informative distillery tours:
- To be called bourbon, it must be made in the USA.
- The percentage of corn used in the grain ingredients must be at least 51 percent.
- Bourbon must be aged in new, charred, white oak barrels for at least 2 years.
- It cannot be more than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol) and can only use water to reduce the alcohol level.
There are a few other tidbits, but I’ll save those for you to discover when you go to Bardstown!
After two days (and two distillery tours), my skin started to smell like bourbon. And I found myself trying everything from bourbon ice cream to bourbon biscuit pudding! I can’t recall ever having that kind of reaction to Scotch.
The Federal Hill mansion in Bardstown, KY, was the inspiration for Stephen Foster’s song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Stephen Foster didn’t live in the house that his song, “My Old Kentucky Home” made famous. But he and his wife did spend some time there in 1852 as guests of its owner, his cousin Judge John Rowan.
The stately mansion, Federal Hill, inspired Foster to write the chorus of a song he’d been composing, which he named “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Although nothing in the house relates directly to Foster, docents dressed in 1800s attire bring the elegant rooms to life as they relate stories about the Rowans and the lifestyle of that time.
Foster also wrote “Oh Susannah,” “Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” and lots of other favorite songs. During the summer, visitors can enjoy them while attending “Stephen Foster The Musical.”
We stayed close by at My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Towering trees, views of the park’s lush golf course, and proximity to attractions made the campground an enjoyable place to stay.