Tag: bourbon

Lincoln Homestead State Park

If you live in Kentucky, you live with visual reminders of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln every day. He is our ubiquitous icon: statues, murals, and signs dot the state attesting to his connection to the Commonwealth.

There’s a small and relatively unknown yet historic spot related to him: the Lincoln Homestead State Park.

The president’s grandfather, Captain Abraham Lincoln, settled here with his wife and sons after the Revolutionary War. Thomas Lincoln, the president’s father, allegedly proposed to Nancy on the site in front of a fireplace; the original cabin still stands. The park has a few original structures as well as replica buildings. The original home owned by Moredecai Lincoln, the president’s uncle, still stands here as well.

Below is a shot I took of one of the historic buildings. Not that great, but shows you a little of what it looks like. Beyond this area and below it is a small creek, which is probably a feature that attracted settlement in the area.

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This is not a big place–its main attraction is really a golf course to the south of the historic sites. There is also a picnic area slightly to the north of the historic area, along with a playground. This was the view a few summers ago across the road from the picnic/playground area: a vineyard!

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Looking east from playground area north of main part of Lincoln Homestead Park

 

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I noticed the park on a map a few summers back and visited. It is not far from where I live (within an hour), but it is definitely off the beaten path. The physical address for the park is Springfield, Kentucky, a few miles to the southeast.

As it turns out, the park is just west of where Bourbon Springs would be if it existed–slightly south of Willisburg.

Bourbon Springs would be about where the marker for Route 555 appears on this map (above the road marked Route 438).

More Free Reads!

Here’s another mystery promo I’m participating in.  Over thirty authors! Stock up on some fun, free mystery reading during these dark cold days of winter (at least up here in the Northern Hemisphere; if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, great for outdoor leisure reading!)

Click here to go to the promo page for January Keep Warm and Cozy promo on Book Funnel. (mailing list sign up could be required)

Free and Fun

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

          

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Christmas Recipes 2018

Below are links to a number of wonderful recipes (in one case, a guide to cooking chocolate chip cookies). I’m posting these to Facebook throughout December and thought it would be nice to post them all in one place.

Click on the graphics to go to the recipes.

Perfect Sugar Cookies from Delish

 

Chocolate Strawberry Pretzel Cookies from Taste of Home

 

Ina Garten’s Shortbread

 

Cream Cheese Cookies from Southern Living

 

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Real House Moms

 

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies from My Recipes

 

Peanut Butter Brownie Pillow Cookies from Inspired by Charm

 

Bobby Flay’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps from Martha Stewart

 

Peppermint Stripe Meringues from Better Homes and Gardens

 

Original Toll House Cookies

 

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies from Live Well Bake Often

 

 

 

Double Dark Mocha Drops from King Arthur Flour

 

Sugar Cookie M&M Bars from Betty Crocker

 

Basic Butter Cookies from Cooking Classy

 

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Almond Biscotti from Real Simple

 

Apple Pie Cookies from An Italian in My Kitchen

 

Red Velvet Snowballs from Country Living

 

Other links!

Candy Cane Cookie Sandwiches from Delish

Bourbon Fudge from Bread Booze Bacon

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Shortbread from Esquire

Sunflower Cookies from Taste of Home

Woodford Reserve Hot Toddy from The Manual

PS:  Happy Repeal Day! Prohibition ended on this day in 1933!

 

Christmas Bourbon Advice

Since it’s the holiday season, I’m seeing tons of articles and posts on what is a good bottle of bourbon to give as a gift–or to keep for yourself. Recently, I had a reader ask me for some advice regarding what I thought was a good bottle of bourbon. I do get this question occasionally, and I love it.

Before I get started answering that question, however, I need to point out the crucial fact here: I live in Kentucky. I have access to many bourbons that are hard to find outside the state. Additionally, I do live within minutes of several distilleries where special bottles are often offered. The closest distillery to me is Woodford Reserve.

Woodford often has special bottles. They even offer engraving services for their flagship bourbon, Distiller’s Select. I have bought gift bottles there for my father and folks at work.

Recently, I left work a little bit early to get to the distillery (it closes at 5 o’clock) to find something for my husband for Christmas. I was in luck.

Or, rather, he will be.

The bottle that had lured me to the distillery was a new offering: a bottled-in-bond version of Woodford Reserve. Price: $50.

Bottled in Bond label

But that’s not my husband’s big gift.

He’s also getting a bottle of Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Select American Oak. This bourbon was matured in a specifically sourced oak: Ozark. According to the information that came with the bottle: “Having barrels that share a common wood structure gives this Special Master’s Collection Woodford Reserve a distinct nutty and sweet aromatic character that will remind you of warm baked goods.” Sounds like the perfect poor for the holidays. Price: $130.

I think he won’t try to return this.

And now for some advice. I offer this information based upon my own likes, and on the assumption that the reader does not otherwise have an extensive knowledge of bourbon (which I don’t claim myself!).

So here are some tips if you are looking for a good bottle for the holidays or to give as a gift.

  • Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select: This is my go-to bourbon. For me, it perfectly hits that point between spicy and sweet. Price for a bottle is around $30-$35 (note: in Kentucky; not sure outside the state).

Guess what we like to drink. Don’t worry. We have another unopened bottle. 🙂

  • Four Roses Single Barrel: This is a high-rye bourbon, which I usually do not like. However, unlike many high-ryes, this one is exceptionally smooth. When I took the tour at this distillery, the guide called this bourbon “your all-day Sunday sippin’ bourbon.” I agree. Price for this bourbon is also around $30-$35.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Four Roses Single Barrel

  • Henry McKenna ten-year-old bottled in bond: very good and hard to find, even in Kentucky. It used to be easier to locate here in my state, but it got on some list that it is a great value for bourbon so now everyone knows about it and it’s hard to locate. Not sure of the price these days. Was recently comparable to the bourbons above.

McKenna ten-year bottled in bond

  • Woodford Reserved Double Oaked: This bourbon is a bit sweeter, although not by much, than the flagship Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select. And as its name says, it is aged in more than one barrel to get that extra flavor from the Oak. Sometimes this is called a “dessert bourbon.” We’ve had it with Christmas dinner (the meal itself, not just with sweets). Price around $40.

 

  • Old Weller Antique: I’ve heard this sometimes called “poor man’s Pappy,” referring to Pappy Van Winkle, that bourbon that’s now crazy expensive. Antique is made by the same family at the same site and is difficult to find. We made a special stop in Bardstown at a liquor store for our bottle–and that was over 3 years ago and I don’t think I’ve encountered one since. If you find a bottle and it’s not ridiculously expensive, go ahead and grab it.

Old Weller Antique

Your best bets as far as availability beyond Kentucky are likely Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select and Double Oaked and Four Roses Single Barrel.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

A Springtime Trip on the Bluegrass Railroad

In western Woodford County is a wonderful attraction: the Bluegrass Railroad Museum. Not only is this a “static” museum with the typical displays, it is a living, working, moving museum.

In short, you can take a train ride!

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A “quilt piece” sign on the side of the museum; reflects the classic railroad crossing road sign

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I’d been on the train ride a few years ago in the fall, but wanted another family outing, this time to see the spring colors. The weather did not disappoint, and after lunch in Versailles at Ricardo’s, we headed to the museum. Lunch at Ricardo’s was particularly appropriate because it used to be the Versailles train station.

The museum is located on the western end of town, near the baseball fields and a large recreation center. There’s plenty of free parking.

This time, I opted to get first-class tickets rather than coach. On our previous excursion, I tried to save a little bit of money by buying the cheaper tickets. That really was a mistake. The seats as I recall in coach were quite hard and there’s no heating or air conditioning in that part of the train. I can attest, therefore, that the first-class tickets (five dollars more per ticket), were worth it. We had comfortable seating throughout the trip.

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Draped on the back of every seat in first classs

The engineer explained how the whistle would blow to signal our departure from the small station, and off we went, headed west towards the Kentucky River. The river was approximately 7 miles away.

We trundled along through the Bluegrass, spotting several thoroughbred horse farms. We even made a stop in tiny Milner, where we picked up some passengers who had missed the train (and therefore about a quarter of the whole journey).

Our trip on the tracks had us running parallel to US 62; it was easy to see the cars on the road from the train (the tracks are so close to the road in places that it’s hard to see the tracks on the above map). We passed through fairly deep limestone cuts, which became more common as we approached the steep and hilly ground around the river. During this portion of the excursion, I spotted a deer running through the woods.

You actually do not cross the river. Although there is a bridge, it was condemned for passenger trains in 1937; it was condemned for freight in 1985. The bridge, which dates from approximately the 1890s, was never renovated. According to one of the guides, in the 1980s when the bridge was towards the end of its working life, the railroad workers approaching the bridge feared it. They could feel the bridge swaying under them as they passed over the river, which is over 200 feet below. The guide told a story of how railroad workers would get off the train and cross it on a hand car, leaving one poor worker (who had no doubt lost a bet) to drive the train across the river and the deep gorge.

Once at the river, you can see four distinct things.

First and straight in front of you is the bridge, looking every bit as rickety as you can imagine.

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You can only go out on the bridge if you belong to a bungee-jumping club.

Second and below you is US 62, the road which runs parallel to the train tracks and crosses the river.

Third, to the right and slightly north across the river is Wild Turkey Distillery, its rickhouses, visitors’ center, and  distillery plant all within clear view. As one drives west on US 62 across the river,  on the other bank just above the road is a billboard (only a shadow in the picture below). The billboard says: “See the house that Jimmy built.” Jimmy Russell is the Wild Turkey master distiller and has been for sixty years.

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Does it look a little familiar? This is the opposite view of the header on my website at the top of this page. I took that picture in September 2014 at the Wild Turkey visitors’ center, visible in this shot on the far right in the middle of the photo between land and sky; the visitors’ center looks like a black barn with a pitched roof. That water tower in the distance has the Wild Turkey logo on it with the phrase “Welcome Home”

Lastly, to the south and low along the river is a massive quarry (look at the picture of the bridge and the lower left).

Just out of sight to the north is a large electrical plant. A lot of the land to the north on our side of the river (Woodford County; Anderson County is on the western side of the river) is owned by the electrical company, Kentucky Utilities.

We could not actually see the river; we were too far up and there was already too much vegetation.

On the ride back, we were sleepy, some of us dozing, as the train trundled back to the station, almost rocking us to sleep as it swayed side to side on the tracks.

The entire excursion took approximately 2 1/2 hours, a wonderful family outing on a lovely Kentucky spring day.

The Bluegrass Railroad Museum is a non-profit organization and celebrated its 40th year in 2016.

***

Fun and Free For You

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

                

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Bourbonland Glass


The sign greeting us just outside the visitors’ center; note the lovely view in the background

 

It was an absolutely gorgeous evening

 

Kentucky Basketball commemorative bottles just casually placed on a windowsill…

 

One of the pieces–which looked like a boat–above a small creek that runs through the distillery grounds

 

Summer Sun (2010)… at dusk at Maker’s

 

Detail of Summer Sun

 

 

The rickhouse ceiling

I can’t remember the name of this piece, but I think it was something like Sapphire and Platinum; that new in-the-side-of-a-hill storage facility is behind the piece

 

A boat full of beauty

Fun and free stuff

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

A Familiar Sight in Bourbonland: Distillery Cats


Noah, a distillery cat at Willett in Bardstown, Kentucky

Woodford Reserve had a revered distillery cat, Elijah, who passed away a few years ago. He had his own special spot at the distillery, outside a building between the Dryer House and the old warehouse. I took these pictures in September when I was on a tour.

 

Why was the cat named Elijah? He was named for Elijah Pepper, the man who came to Glenns Creek in 1812 to farm and distill.

When I was at the gift shop at the distillery in the visitors’ center one day, I got to meet Elijah’s successor, Oscar. He was in a shopping basket underneath a wall of bourbon on top of a used bourbon barrel. He meowed once and was happy to be petted, but wasn’t interested in raising his head beyond the edge of the basket. I didn’t notice him at first. When I was checking out, the clerk kept turning around and looking at the wall. She finally said something about how the noise “doesn’t bother him,” and I finally spotted the cat.

Oscar wasn’t interested in raising his head up for a picture; he was only nine months old in these pictures

 

According to the clerk, Oscar stays at the administrator’s house on the grounds. When he wants to leave the visitors’ center, he goes to the backdoor (leads out onto the side porch) and waits to be let out.  He was a rescue cat.

And how did Oscar get his name?

Because Elijah Pepper’s son was named Oscar. Oscar Pepper took over the distilling business after his father’s death and built part of the original distillery building, which dates to the 1840s. The distillery was once known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.

So does Old Garnet have a distillery cat?

Yes. In the Epilogue of Cedar and Cinnamon, the existence of the Old Garnet distillery cat is revealed, as well as the reason why there hasn’t been a distillery cat in the series to date. The cat’s name is revealed in Distilled Heat, and he makes one brief appearance in the book.

Sadly, one of us in the house is allergic to cats, so we can’t have one. I’ll just have to make do by visiting a few distilleries from time to time.

 

Free and Fun For You

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

                

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

SHARP PRACTICE–a milestone and some thoughts

I just realized that when Sharp Practice releases on March 28, 2017, that will be the tenth book I’ve published!

There’s lots more Bourbonland on the way–Single Barrel and Sharp Practice are just the beginning. I’ve been writing a lot this winter–books as well as short stories and novellas. This series is tied together just like Bourbon Springs–and you’ll get to see Bourbon Springs characters from time to time.

Welcome back to the Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass… welcome to Bourbonland.

A Year in Pictures in the Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass

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.

 

December 2014

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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.

 

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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

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 mash tubs at Town Branch

 

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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.

 

 

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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.”

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January 2015

A trip to Jim Beam in Clermont, Kentucky: heart of a bourbon empire nestled in the Knobs, about fifteen minutes west of Bardstown.

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This barn greets guests after turning off the main road and going toward the distillery and visitors’ center

 

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The American Stillhouse at Jim Beam

 

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The grains and their flavors…

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…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)

 

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Gotta protect your water source–a sign in the distillery

 

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The Jim Beam yeast jug, containing their proprietary and historic strain

 

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The barreling porch with milestones noted

 

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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.

 

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Alligator char: the inside of a barrel

 

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Filling a barrel; it’s a lot like pumping gas

 

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Steam in the sky

The distillery in the bright winter sun; it was a beautiful day.

 

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White dog!

 

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Time to release the bourbon!

 

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Used and split bungs

 

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Barrel dump

Dumping the bourbon; this was Knob Creek; note the incredible color and the discarded char.

 

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Jim Beam bottling line; since they were dumping Knob Creek that day, that’s what they were bottling.

 

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Little bench made of old staves

 

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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.

 

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Look familiar? That’s Jeannie’s bottle from the TV show. It was a painted Jim Beam decanter.

 

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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.

 

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Gorgeous views of the Knobs were all around

 

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A rickhouse at Jim Beam; we went inside this one

 

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My taste (one of three)

 

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Four centuries of a bourbon dynasty

The Beam Bourbon Dynasty, from 1795 to the present,  inside the American Stillhouse just above the front entrance.

 

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The ticket for the tour has the same images

 

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Old Crow is a Beam brand and they still make it to this day; wish I’d bought this sign

 

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The tasting bar–so many choices!

 

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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.

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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.

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Movin’ on

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.

 

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Looking from just outside the visitors’ center down toward the terra cotta brick warehouses

 

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A chunk of snow suspended in a tree

 

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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.

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Another horse barn; you can see a few thoroughbreds to the left

 

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Oops…

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.

 

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Pond fronting US 60 at Ashford Stud–now the home of Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah

 

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A creek on Stonestreet Farm, just south of Ashford Stud

 

February 2015

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.

 

 

 

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The Beam owners were also related to the Dants, another legendary bourbon-making family

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I love this bottle–look at the sunbursts on the glass!

 

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The still at Limestone Branch

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Mash at Limestone Branch

 

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Bourbon Springs?

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.

 

March 2015

 

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Bluegrass sunset on Selection Sunday 2015

 

April 2015

Got out to Woodford Reserve twice.

 

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Door to the tasting room

 

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Looking from the distillery toward the visitors’ center; those panes are the back of the tasting room

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Split bungs among the char after a barrel dump

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The tasting room

 

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Along a country road in the Bluegrass in springtime

 

May 2015

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.


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To the left of the cannon is a historical marker on the spot where a Union general was killed

 

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Clover on the battlefield

A trip to Kentucky’s capital city, Frankfort!

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Home of the original bourbon balls–Rebecca Ruth Candies in Frankfort, Kentucky

 

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The real deal

 

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Sign at Rebecca Ruth 🙂

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A planter on St. Clair Mall in downtown Frankfort

 

June 2015

 

A trip to Four Roses, south of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and along the Salt River.

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Single barrel is my favorite Four Roses expression

 

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Mash tub

 

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Four Roses tasting bar; you get to keep the glass

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Can you see the legs?

 

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One of the pillars at the distillery entrance

July 2015

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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!


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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…

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This is a wall of huge hibiscus outside the museum at the park.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

August 2015

A trip to Lake Barkley State Resort Park in far western Kentucky, at Land Between the Lakes.

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The lodge. The outdoor swimming pool is on that concrete terrace, providing awesome lake views.

 

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The butterfly garden below the pool and lodge was full of large butterflies.

 

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Views from along the path skirting the lake below the lodge.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.


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Yes, there was a bourbon tent! Jim Beam was the brand represented.

 

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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.

 

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A coloring wall at the Fair. See that building colored yellow? That’s a distillery. Those columns to the right? Silos for grain.

 

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Fair delicacies. I did not partake, although the hot brown on a stick did intrigue me.

 

September 2015

Trips to Shakertown and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.

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The Centre Family Dwelling, at one time one of the largest stone structures in the state. Two entrances for the two genders.

 

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Candle made on-site at Shakertown on sale in the gift shop.

 

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The side of the Trustees’ House. We sat here on this perfect late summer day. The sky was amazing.

 

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The top of the Centre Family Dwelling (it was SO HOT UP THERE!).  One of the highest views in Mercer County, Kentucky.

 

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The old lock on the above window. Talk about sturdy. This thing was the very definition of the word.

 

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The window opposite the one above; another gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside.

 

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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.

 

 

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The great lawn outside Spalding Hall in downtown Bardstown saw every major distillery represented.

 

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Spalding Hall is home to the Getz Musuem of Whiskey History, which really deserves a long blog post of its very own.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

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Looking out a second floor window to the fields beyond.

 

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Took a trip to Willett Distillery, a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

 

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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.

 

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Front doors of the distillery at Willett, with the stylized door handles crafted to represent the Willett pot still.

 

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And here is the very same pot still!

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A barrel stencil at Willett on the floor of the barrel filling area.

 

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The Old Talbott Tavern, where we had a lovely lunch.

 

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The old Nelson County Courthouse in the middle of Bardstown, now a tourist information center.

 

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On the Great Lawn again–coopers from Independent Stave Company demonstrating how to fix barrels.

 

October 2015

Another outing to Shakertown, but this time we ate at the Trustees’ House.

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The quintessential Kentucky Hot Brown. Of course it was good!

 

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One of the wonderful staircases in the Trustees’ House.

 

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Front door of the Trustees’ House.

In addition to walking around the village, we took a riverboat ride on the Dixie Belle.

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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.

 

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Beneath High Bridge with an October sun behind the clouds.

 

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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.

 

November 2015

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).

 

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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.

 

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Sarava, 2002 Belmont Stakes Winner. Ornery and actually rather small.

 

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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.

 

December 2015

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The Kentucky State Capitol at dawn on a December morning.

 

 

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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!

Distillery Cats

Distilleries are large, rambling places full of grain. With all that corn, barley, and wheat around, they are nice targets for mice.

Enter the distillery cat.

Many distilleries have their own cat. In September 2015 when I was at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, I took the tour at Willett. They had at least three distillery cats. I can only recall the names of two: Noah and Rowan (named for various Willett expressions).

Noah is seen here in the distillery building itself, on an old church pew. His water and food bowls were underneath a reception desk opposite the pew. He was very friendly and enjoyed watching the tourists and being petted.

 

Noah, a distillery cat at Willett in Bardstown

Noah, a distillery cat at Willett in Bardstown

 

Woodford Reserve had a revered distillery cat, Elijah, who passed away this past year. He had his own special spot at the distillery, outside a building between the Dryer House and the old warehouse. I took these pictures in September when I was on a tour.

 

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Why was the cat named Elijah? He was named for Elijah Pepper, the man who came to Glenns Creek in 1812 to farm and distill.

When I was at the gift shop at the distillery in the visitors’ center today, I got to meet Elijah’s successor, Oscar. He was in a shopping basket underneath a wall of bourbon on top of a used bourbon barrel. He meowed once and was happy to be petted, but wasn’t interested in raising his head beyond the edge of the basket. I didn’t notice him at first. When I was checking out, the clerk kept turning around and looking at the wall. She finally said something about how the noise “doesn’t bother him,” and I finally spotted the cat.

 

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Oscar wasn’t interested in raising his head up for a picture

 

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Only nine months old, he’s a big boy

 

 

According to the clerk, Oscar stays at the administrator’s house on the grounds. When he wants to leave the visitors’ center, he goes to the backdoor (leads out onto the side porch) and waits to be let out. He’s nine months old and a rescue cat.

And how did Oscar get his name?

Because Elijah Pepper’s son was named Oscar. Oscar Pepper took over the distilling business after his father’s death and built part of the original distillery building, which dates to the 1840s. The distillery was once known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.

So does Old Garnet have a distillery cat?

Yes. In the Epilogue of Cedar and Cinnamon, the existence of the Old Garnet distillery cat is revealed, as well as the reason why there hasn’t been a distillery cat in the series to date. The cat’s name is revealed in Distilled Heat, and he makes one brief appearance in the book.

 

 

 

The Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass and the Series Name

Today’s topic–the series name, Bourbon Springs.

When I got the idea for the series–small town romance set in a community with an old bourbon distillery–I knew the town needed a great name. I mulled over several different names and the name Bourbon Springs finally hit me very hard. As explained in the back matter of one of the books, the name immediately connects the town to not only what is made there (Kentucky bourbon whiskey), but one of the most important ingredients needed to make it: water.

Central Kentucky (what I call the Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass) sits atop a large limestone dome. It is this limestone which transforms the water–by removing the iron and imparting calcium and magnesium. This same limestone puts the calcium not only into the water, but into the grass, thus producing strong thoroughbred horses.

The importance of water is reflected in the series name as well as the series logo. The blue line or brush underneath the series name is meant to invoke moving water.

The history of the name Bourbon Springs is explained in the first three books, with more detail provided in Angels’ Share, Book 3.

After I came up with the name, I discovered that there was not only a real place in Kentucky called Bourbon Springs, but that there were two such sites, both in Nelson County, Kentucky. The county seat of Nelson County is Bardstown, home to My Old Kentucky Home and several legendary distilleries. It is also known as The Bourbon Capital of the World ™ (yes, it is trademarked). On the map, you can see one Bourbon Springs to the northeast of Bardstown next to Nazareth, Kentucky. The second Bourbon Springs is directly north, then east of Route 31E/150, along Cox’s Creek. Four Roses, which has a distillery in Anderson County Kentucky outside Lawrenceburg, bottles and warehouses its bourbon at its Cox’s Creek facility (click image to enlarge):

Double Bourbon Map

There is also an old bourbon brand called Bourbon Springs.

If Bourbon Springs existed, it would be right smack in the middle of the Land of the Bourbon and Bluegrass, and surrounded by the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail ™. If it were real, Bourbon Springs would be slightly south of Willisburg, Kentucky, along Route 555 which heads toward Springfield, Kentucky. Here is a map of the area  (click image to enlarge):

Map

 

I hope to visit the real Bourbon Springs (both of them) some day in Nelson County. Until then, I’ll have to keep imagining my fictional version of Bourbon Springs in fictional Craig County, Kentucky.

 

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