Posts tagged ‘whiskey’

January 25, 2015

KY : The Bourbon Trail – MAKER’S MARK

bourbon trail makers mark

I’m playing Ryan Adams to get me in a Kentucky mindset, and I have to share the somber cloud that hovers over my heart. It was recently announced Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are getting a divorce. They were my favorite celebrity couple, even more than Brad and Angelina, and I just thought they could make it work. Now with 5 years of marriage being thrown into the celebrity wind, I have to take a moment for over-dramatic mournful silence.

***

Now back to the bourbon trail. While driving down the bourbon trail we saw large square buildings with windows, scattered across rolling hills. If a corporate building and a country barn had a baby, it would be these boxes.  They reminded me of something out of a horror movie, where all the zombie are kept or is storage for twisted experiments. Now the sky was cloudy and gray that day, and since I’m fairly morbid my imagination got a little carried away. In actuality, they are rack houses, where the bourbon goes to age and rest. So I guess technically it is storing an experiment – in awesome flavor!

bourbon resting house

We made the last Maker’s Mark tour and were the first to purchase our tickets. Letting us have that magical alone time the early bird gets to savor. The waiting house is a real Disney style attraction, with talking picture reciting the history of Maker’s Mark and a replica kitchen showing how Margie Samuels, the wife of T. Williams Samuels came up with the signature Maker’s Mark bottle. Margie was a marketing master and designed the Maker Mark’s bottle inspired by the unique shapes of cognac bottles. She wanted Maker’s to be distinctively different from the other bourbons on the market. It was also her idea to have the distillery painted black, as she was tired of it always looking dirty.  See there is a naturally occurring fungus that grows around distilleries called, Baudoinia Compniacensis, and it turns trees and objects black. Margie was annoyed with fighting the fungus so she painted the buildings black with red trim, and her branded esthetics has lasted through the decades.  Oh yeah, the distillery you tour is the same one that produced the first bottle of Makers in the 1950’s, how cool is that!!!

Makers Mark Kitchen

Makers Mark Distillery

Of course, there have been upgrades, like the beautiful copper distillers. But the room which ferments the sour mash was totally vintage. We got to poke our finger into the brew, which looked like captain crunch and tasted like sweet watery white bread. We also got to take home our own Maker’s Mark label, made on the same printing press from their early days. These kinds of true to tradition touches gave the distillery real charm. Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of Maker’s Mark. I enjoy rye bourbons, and I found out they don’t use any rye in their recipe. Just corn sour mash and red winter wheat. So the tasting was a little underwhelming to me, but still very enjoyable.

Makers Mark Distillers

makers mark sour mash

We found out there is an ambassador program you can join, where they mark a barrel of bourbon with your name on it, and in 7 years you can purchase ‘your’ bourbon. I was so excited about this program, I told Bowerbird that I would need to plan my ovaries around the ambassador program, because I wouldn’t want to be pregnant when our bourbon was ready. I also said this out loud, and one of the other gentlemen on the tour remarked it was the best statement he’s ever heard.  What can I say, I love bourbon.

The coolest thing, about bringing home a bottle of Maker’s Mark from the distillery, is that you can dip it in the hot wax yourself. This was our epic road trip across the country, so we had to experience a dipped bottle. I was nice and let Bowerbird be the dipper, and the second it was cooled and handed to us I tried to carve the date into the wax, but it was too solid. Unfortunately, there was too many liabilities when it came to carving the wax when it was still hot. I hid a few of my road trip postcards in the gift shop too, and was tweeted on the road a week later from a fella who found it in a feminist book. Getting tweets while on the road was so cool. I still wonder about the postcards floating out there.

dipping makers mark in red wax

It was a bummer we were unable to go to any additional distilleries. Bowerbird was really looking forward to Four Roses, but we both agreed Maker’s Mark was worth it. We had been told it was a must see distillery, and for not even liking Maker’s that much, I absolutely loved my experience there. The bourbon trail hands out these passports you can get stamped at all the distilleries, new life goal is to get it filled. Bulleit distillery, you’re next on my list.

cute couple at maker's mark

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January 2, 2015

KY: The Bourbon Trail – Heaven Hill

Bourbon Trail Heaven Hill

Bowerbird and I have decided to stay off the booze and abstain from spirits in 2015*. Not because either of us has a drinking problem that has made our lives unmanageable. But because we both really dislike the lethargy and mild headaches that just one glass of alcohol can induce. 2015 is a big year for the both of us, and we want to be on top of our game. So it’s a good thing we hit the Bourbon Trail in 2014. We are both sad to be giving up whiskey and bourbon, our favorite spirits because of the aroma and smooth finish. Yet I don’t think we will be able to top the sampling of a $400 bottle of Evan Williams either.

The portion of the bourbon trail we visited was in Bardstown, which is only thirty minutes from Louisville, and where essentially most of the bourbon distilleries reside. Also the ‘trail’ is a paved highway, just for clarification. Welcoming us to the Bourbon trail was a sign propped on the front lawn of a lovely house that read, “Bourbon destroys lives.” Our first stop on the trail was Heaven Hill distilleries and Bourbon Heritage Center. It had great interactive displays of how Bourbon is made, with buttons and knobs that lit up and made noises. At the touch of a button one of the displays released the sharp and hypnotizing scent of bourbon. I felt like a kid in a science center. There was also a history of distilling bourbon; describing why corn is used as the mash, and the ways it was hidden from officers during prohibition. Bowerbird and I were mostly just interested in a tasting, and not the full 2 hour tour of the distillery, so with our souvenir tasting glasses we enjoyed an array of premium Heaven Hill bourbon.

Bourbon Heritage Center

Heaven Hill Bourbon Tasting

Sadly I can’t find my notes from the tasting, and apart from knowing that one of the bottles (seen below) is $400 and only sold in Japan, I don’t recall the specifics of the other bourbons. But they were delicious. First enjoying them neat and then with a dash of water. The water changing the flavor ever so subtly. I remember one of the bourbons evaporated on my tongue. Another one tasted sweeter after the drop of water, giving a more caramel and syrup quality to the bourbon. We were with three other couples during the tasting and it was fascinating hearing everyone’s take on the flavors.  It was so much fun to geek out with other bourbon and whiskey nerds.

Evan William Bourbon Trail

adding water to bourbon

By the time we left Heaven Hill we could only make one other distillery and another couple from the tasting highly recommended seeing Maker’s Mark. As you drive up onto the Maker’s Mark property, the buildings and trees are all black, windows trimmed with red. I didn’t know much about Maker’s Mark before my tour, but I’m so happy we went there.  The history and marketing behind Maker’s would make any feminist fan of branding drool – and that’s basically me.

I’m going to break this up into two stories as the tale of Maker’s Mark deserves a post of its own.

Tell me what’s your favorite bourbon? Have you been on the bourbon trail?

*Exceptions to our 2015 resolution includes vacations and one double date to a whiskey bar we couldn’t get to in 2014.

June 14, 2014

Weekday Roundup!

I started off this week with a 2 year anniversary! My boyfriend and I hit the 2 year mark, which is  pretty surprising as before him, my dating life had a 30 day expiration date.

He prepared an amazing prime rib-eye steak dinner and bought me the most amazing candle. I love candles, but I’m particular about the scents and unfortunately most of them tend to make my throat itch after being burned.  Knowing how picky I am, the fact he picked the perfect scent all on his own…well that means we are soul mates, right? Plus no allergic reaction after being burned!

sydney hale candle grapefruit and orange

Sydney Hale C0. – Grapefruit + Orange  Candle 

I also made some progress on planning the road trip, oh yeah I’m planning a roadtrip…but more details about that later. I’m a whiskey, bourbon, scotch drinker. The boy even bought a 15 year old scotch to celebrate our anniversary. So I’m excited to  say say I discovered there is a Whiskey Museum in Kentucky! Also there is a bourbon tour, where you visit all the distilleries in Kentucky. I swear in my past life I was an aspiring country sing who died of a broken heart.

whiskey bottle Mary Kate McDevitt

DesignInspiration

And since I am planning an epic road trip that means I am committed to cut my spending and save money. Do you ever find when you start trying to save money, you come across a million items you must own. Followed by the craziest explanations and justifications for why that item has to be in your life.  This backpack from Filson is one of those items. Fortunantly at $290 it makes it easier for me to just say no. But seriously I’d look adorable wearing this in Colorado or down in Texas. Just imagine me trotting along with my moleskin and disposable camera… a girl can dream.

filson rucksack

Filson Rucksack 

Finally I saw this makeup tutorial on Alex Chung. I have expressed my love for her before, and not just because she is perfection personified, but she has a personality to boot! Warning watching a nearly flawless women have makeup applied to her…god damn…oh yeah that f*d up my self esteem.  Had to hold myself back from purchasing the nude lipstick mentioned in the video, it was $5.50 and that is just money I don’t have to waste. If you are brave enough…ugh….

But like all things in life, comparing yourself to others is quickest path down personal dissatisfaction and depression. So I leave you and end my week with this image!

don't compare yourself art

Comparison is the Thief of Joy – Art Print

Wishing you a fantabulous weekend!

 

June 13, 2014

Lock and Key Social Drinkery, a DTLA style bar located in downtown Downey!

lock and key social drinkery

Lock and Key Social Drinkery located in Downey, in the words of the owner, is designed so you wouldn’t feel like you were in Downey. A restaurant bar, the interior is industrial chic complete with vintage styled Edison light bulbs and an illuminated sign of the gastropub’s initials affixed to the ceiling. The walls are partially covered in wood paneling, and sleek black booths. Socially aware, tall tables set for eight run down the middle to accommodate large parties.

Downey is only 13 miles from Downtown LA, and its residents vary from lower middle class to those living in a mansion maze worth millions. With the increase in twenty-somethings living at home, and relatively affordable housing where young families plant their roots; there exist a demand for great food and atmosphere in Downey. A market, owner Marc Shelton, understands and is tapping into. On a Friday night at 7:00pm the restaurant had open tables, but was far from empty. And by 8:00 there was a line waiting to get inside.

When seated you’re served a tiny glass and chilled water in a large medicinal bottle which you’d imagine would hold pharmacy tonics in the 18oo’s.  The menu is creative and reads like a competitive cooking show, while not being off putting to those that might not be foodies. Gourmet classics taken up a notch or wrapped in bacon. A Grilled cheese with fontina cheese and white truffle butter. An appetizer called Amazeballs, that is fried Brussels sprouts, apple smoked bacon, candied walnuts, with an apple gastrique.

Being a Downey native, I had to start the dinner off with a Hot Cheeto pie. A sliced open Hot Cheetos snack bag drenched in jalapeno (nacho) cheese sauce topped with chorizo and scallions. I might have lost you, but understand Hot Cheetos and nacho cheese was a lunchtime staple for Downey kids. I didn’t eat it very often but I understood its delicious allure. It’s hard to get all food writer when talking about a bag of hot Cheetos and nacho cheese,but the warm melted jalapeno cheese compliments the Hot Cheetos seasoning without overpowering it. You still taste the Hot Cheeto flavor and its spicy build, while the creamy cheese coats the Cheetos without making it too soggy. Where it get gourmet is the peppery chorizo, and crisp scallions that add another dimension to this appetizer. I loved the Hot Cheeto pie, but I did regret starting off with it as it had scorched my palate a bit.

hot cheeto pie lock and key downey

Yet by the third bite of my dinner sandwich, I felt my taste buds could fairly assess the flavors.  I ordered the Sweet Thang Chicken Sandwich, a panko crusted chicken breast, apple wood bacon, sunny side egg, prairie cheddar, raspberry chipotle compote, on a pretzel bun.  Its presentation was on point, and technical execution excellent. The sunny side egg’s yolk was thick and creamy. The panko crust crispy and light, chicken itself tender and moist. But lacked its own unique seasoning aside from “tempura” flavor.  So the apple smoked bacon is what brought in an element of salt, and the prairie cheese forgettable unless the raspberry chipotle compote was in the bite. And that is where all the flavors came together and the sandwich made an impression. I picked at the top portion of the bun with drizzles of compote to eat with a bite of the other ingredients. Because without the compote, it was just an ok sandwich, but with the compote it hit all the flavor notes of sweet, salty, and tangy.

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