I’ve posted many pictures to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter over the past year, but here’s a year-long compilation of 2015–which actually begins at the very end of 2014. This will be a looooong post, chock-full of pictures of the Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass. I love where I live, and I hope it shows. If you have seen the Pinterest boards for the books, some of these pictures will look familiar. If you haven’t checked out the Pinterest boards, links to the boards are on the book pages here on my site.
One note: I’ve been to all the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail now except for one, Bulleit (it actually wasn’t on the Trail when I started; I’m supposed to be able to still get my shirt despite not having gone there, but I want to get there soon). Anyway, I have a lot of shots of other distilleries beyond those you’ll see below, including Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey. It’s just that those trips were earlier in 2014 and thus not appropriate time-wise for what I consider a year-end round up.
Also, you won’t find a lot of references to the books below. You’ll find some, but my goal with this post is to show you the wonderful places I’ve been this year and the place I call home: Kentucky.
Note: this post is best viewed on a desktop. On mobile, I’ve noticed the pictures get rather confused and don’t match captions.
Town Branch Distillery
During the week between Christmas and New Year’s last year, I took the tour at Town Branch in Lexington and checked that stop off on my Bourbon Trail Passport. Located within spitting distance of Rupp Arena, the spot is Lexington’s only distillery. Town Branch is named after the stream running through that area of Lexington and through the local old distillery district. It is owned by Alltech.
Tasting at the end of the tour at Town Branch
At the end of any distillery tour, you’re going to get the chance to taste the wares. Town Branch was no exception. Look at that awesome still in the back!
The devil’s cut
Town Branch had this lovely on display: a used barrel stave showing how far the bourbon had soaked into that oak. Trapped bourbon is called the devil’s cut.
The mash tubs at Town Branch
The bourbon flavor wheel at Town Branch
Note that cedar and cinnamon are opposites on this wheel; also note that stone–that’s limestone, a very deliberate construction choice. Town Branch has been around less than ten years and the distillery building itself is very new.
Honoring the past
This was on a decorated barrel–“Old Tarr” is actually an old bourbon brand, made in Lexington’s distillery district (not anymore). In fact, across High Street and very close to Town Branch in the distillery district is a dead-end street called “Tarr Trace.”
A trip to Jim Beam in Clermont, Kentucky: heart of a bourbon empire nestled in the Knobs, about fifteen minutes west of Bardstown.
This barn greets guests after turning off the main road and going toward the distillery and visitors’ center
The American Stillhouse at Jim Beam
The grains and their flavors…
…and the grains themselves; the panels rotated to reveal the actual grains (think how they do it on Wheel of Fortune and you’ll get the idea)
Gotta protect your water source–a sign in the distillery
The Jim Beam yeast jug, containing their proprietary and historic strain
The barreling porch with milestones noted
Devil’s cut at Jim Beam
Jim Beam makes a brand called “Devil’s Cut”–they extract that bourbon from the wood! More on that below in another picture.
Alligator char: the inside of a barrel
Filling a barrel; it’s a lot like pumping gas
Steam in the sky
The distillery in the bright winter sun; it was a beautiful day.
Time to release the bourbon!
Used and split bungs
Dumping the bourbon; this was Knob Creek; note the incredible color and the discarded char.
Jim Beam bottling line; since they were dumping Knob Creek that day, that’s what they were bottling.
Little bench made of old staves
Really big bottles
If these look big, that’s because they are. The biggest bottles of Jim Beam I’ve ever seen. Not available in the U.S. Apparently they sell this stuff to cruise ships and overseas.
Look familiar? That’s Jeannie’s bottle from the TV show. It was a painted Jim Beam decanter.
Booker sees you!
A mosaic of bottles used to create the image of the late, great Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson and the man who created the small batch revolution.
Gorgeous views of the Knobs were all around
A rickhouse at Jim Beam; we went inside this one
My taste (one of three)
Four centuries of a bourbon dynasty
The Beam Bourbon Dynasty, from 1795 to the present, inside the American Stillhouse just above the front entrance.
The ticket for the tour has the same images
Old Crow is a Beam brand and they still make it to this day; wish I’d bought this sign
The tasting bar–so many choices!
Take your pick
The dispenser for your taste–insert a card they give you, make your selection. Note the Devil’s Cut. One selection was experimental (second from right).
I am lucky enough to live minutes away from Woodford Reserve and some of the prettiest horse country around. Sometimes I go out to the distillery just because I can.
Winter scenes at Woodford
Distillery to the left; old rickhouse to the right; old Pepper farmstead on the hill across Glenns Creek; note the large new rickhouses in the distance. The visitors’ center (first picture above in the snow) is out of shot to the left.
Roll out the barrel! A newly-filled barrel on the barrel run moving from the distillery to the old warehouse; shot taken from the porch on the visitors’ center.
Looking from just outside the visitors’ center down toward the terra cotta brick warehouses
A chunk of snow suspended in a tree
Yes, it’s huge
Shot of a huge horse barn taken along New Cut Road, the road I took to and from the distillery; looking south.
Another horse barn; you can see a few thoroughbreds to the left
Yeah, the shot isn’t centered. I had to climb a little hill off the road to get this picture. I can proudly say I didn’t fall.
Pond fronting US 60 at Ashford Stud–now the home of Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah
A creek on Stonestreet Farm, just south of Ashford Stud
In February, I took a trip to Lebanon, Kentucky (fictionalized in the Bourbon Springs Series as “Littleham”), home to Limestone Branch Distillery and Independent Stave Company.
At Limestone Branch, which is owned by a couple of Beams, they had a great display of bourbon memorabilia.
The Beam owners were also related to the Dants, another legendary bourbon-making family
I love this bottle–look at the sunbursts on the glass!
The still at Limestone Branch
Mash at Limestone Branch
Looking south from Limestone Branch; the Knobs are in the distance at the left. This is my mental image of the land around Bourbon Springs and Craig County, Kentucky.
Bluegrass sunset on Selection Sunday 2015
Got out to Woodford Reserve twice.
Door to the tasting room
Looking from the distillery toward the visitors’ center; those panes are the back of the tasting room
Split bungs among the char after a barrel dump
The tasting room
Along a country road in the Bluegrass in springtime
Warmer weather means picnics for me. And that means a trip to Perryville, Kentucky, the site of Kentucky’s largest and most important Civil War Battle.
To the left of the cannon is a historical marker on the spot where a Union general was killed
Clover on the battlefield
A trip to Kentucky’s capital city, Frankfort!
Home of the original bourbon balls–Rebecca Ruth Candies in Frankfort, Kentucky
The real deal
Sign at Rebecca Ruth 🙂
A planter on St. Clair Mall in downtown Frankfort
A trip to Four Roses, south of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and along the Salt River.
Single barrel is my favorite Four Roses expression
Four Roses tasting bar; you get to keep the glass
Can you see the legs?
One of the pillars at the distillery entrance
A view of the Ohio River from an overlook at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, Kentucky. Carrollton is the site of the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers. In this picture, if you look closely, you can see a blue bridge to the center-left of the picture. That bridge spans the Kentucky River, and the confluence is slightly north of it at a local city park.
A small-town Fourth of July in Versailles, Kentucky!
Got the honey from a street vendor, Kentucky Honey Farms, at the Fourth of July celebration in Versailles. When I asked which bourbon was in the honey, he replied, “Well, we are in Woodford County.” 🙂
Another picnic trip to Perryville…
This is a wall of huge hibiscus outside the museum at the park.
I experimented with bourbon vanilla ice cream and created this concotion using Woodford Reserve. The recipe is in the back matter of Cedar and Cinnamon.
A short trip to Wild Turkey. Just because. This is the visitors’ center, opened in June 2014, made to resemble a rickhouse. You can see this building from across the Kentucky River as you approach the bridge.
Not sure whether this is a distillery cat, but I discovered him on the prowl outside the visitors’ center.
A quick day trip to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in Mercer County.
We went to Kentucky Fudge Company, in an old drug store. This is an Ale81 float. Don’t know what Ale81 is? Think of a spicy, caffeinated ginger ale and you’ll get the idea. It is a Kentucky soft drink, a Bluegrass tradition. This float was sooooo good on a hot July day.
A trip to Lake Barkley State Resort Park in far western Kentucky, at Land Between the Lakes.
The lodge. The outdoor swimming pool is on that concrete terrace, providing awesome lake views.
The butterfly garden below the pool and lodge was full of large butterflies.
Views from along the path skirting the lake below the lodge.
Taken at my house. This large butterfly or moth seemed to be posing for me. I had to wait for this shot a few minutes; it finally decided to land and be still.
A daytrip to Danville, Kentucky, in Boyle County, home of Centre College, my alma mater.
The Boyle County Courthouse, dating from 1862. The building was used as a hospital after the Battle of Perryville after Union troops retreated from Perryville, about ten miles or so to the west.
Taken near Parksville, Kentucky in southern Boyle County, where the Knobs meet the Bluegrass.
August means a trip to the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville.
Yes, there was a bourbon tent! Jim Beam was the brand represented.
The painted horse has an image of Louisville’ Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville, along with old labels and a map of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
A coloring wall at the Fair. See that building colored yellow? That’s a distillery. Those columns to the right? Silos for grain.
Fair delicacies. I did not partake, although the hot brown on a stick did intrigue me.
Trips to Shakertown and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.
The Centre Family Dwelling, at one time one of the largest stone structures in the state. Two entrances for the two genders.
Candle made on-site at Shakertown on sale in the gift shop.
The side of the Trustees’ House. We sat here on this perfect late summer day. The sky was amazing.
The top of the Centre Family Dwelling (it was SO HOT UP THERE!). One of the highest views in Mercer County, Kentucky.
The old lock on the above window. Talk about sturdy. This thing was the very definition of the word.
The window opposite the one above; another gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside.
Lots of feline friends at Shakertown. This guy was in the window at the gift shop.
The major event in September was at the Bourbon Capital of the World ™, Bardstown. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
The great lawn outside Spalding Hall in downtown Bardstown saw every major distillery represented.
Spalding Hall is home to the Getz Musuem of Whiskey History, which really deserves a long blog post of its very own.
I attended a luncheon and history lecture at Wickland, home of three governors (two Kentucky, one Louisiana). This rambling Georgian mansion is almost two hundred years old and owned by the city of Bardstown. I have a book in mind where one of the characters lives in a place inspired by this mansion.
Looking out the front door. The window over the entrance was a symbolic sun–supposedly it never set on the good fortunes of the house’s inhabitants.
Looking down the main staircase into the wide hall. That sofa to the right is a piece original to the house (that white sheet of paper is telling visitors not to sit).
Looking out a second floor window to the fields beyond.
Took a trip to Willett Distillery, a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
Looking from the hillside at Willett to the rickhouses over at Heaven Hill, site of the devastating 1996 fire. Note the Knobs in the distance.
Front doors of the distillery at Willett, with the stylized door handles crafted to represent the Willett pot still.
And here is the very same pot still!
A barrel stencil at Willett on the floor of the barrel filling area.
The Old Talbott Tavern, where we had a lovely lunch.
The old Nelson County Courthouse in the middle of Bardstown, now a tourist information center.
On the Great Lawn again–coopers from Independent Stave Company demonstrating how to fix barrels.
Another outing to Shakertown, but this time we ate at the Trustees’ House.
The quintessential Kentucky Hot Brown. Of course it was good!
One of the wonderful staircases in the Trustees’ House.
Front door of the Trustees’ House.
In addition to walking around the village, we took a riverboat ride on the Dixie Belle.
On the Kentucky River looking at High Bridge, a wonder of the age. People from Cincinnati used to take the train for the day just to see the bridge.
Beneath High Bridge with an October sun behind the clouds.
October saw the Bluegrass host the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. The winners’ garlands were crafted at my local grocery, Kroger. The incomplete garland in the foreground eventually graced the form of Grand Slam Champion American Pharoah, who won the Classic.
A trip to Old Friends Farm, the retirement facility for thoroughbred horses, outside Georgetown, Kentucky. The farm inspired my vision of GarnetBrooke, which plays a major role in Distilled Heat (Bourbon Springs Book 6, to be released in early 2016).
Exceller and Ferdinand (1986 Kentucky Derby Winner) both died overseas in slaughterhouses. Their memory is honored at Old Friends in this logo over the main entrance of the visitors’ center.
Sarava, 2002 Belmont Stakes Winner. Ornery and actually rather small.
Silver Charm, the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Winner. Sweet horse, loves people. He came back to Kentucky and Old Friends in December 2014. He was the first Derby Winner at the farm. It also now houses War Emblem, the 2002 Kentucky Derby Winner. He was in quarantine when we visited.
The Kentucky State Capitol at dawn on a December morning.
And of course I went back out to Woodford Reserve in December. In fact, I went twice. This shot is from the first visit.
If you scrolled all the way through this post, thank you! I hope you enjoyed a virtual trip to my little corner of the world.
Happy New Year!