Thursday, June 16, 2011
Kentucky Bourbon and more
We rounded out time in Frankfort Kentucky with several diverse visits. First, we toured the Buffalo Trace Distillery and learned about how they made their version of Kentucky sour mash. Unlike so many productions tours these days, pictures were allowed and we were able to mingle with the workers at several of the stops on the tour including walking among the bottling team as they filled the flasks for several types of bourbon, including their most expensive 20/25 year aged single barrel bourbon.
The most important part of the process is the aging in the wooden casks, where the bourbon takes on its taste. Under Kentucky law, bourbon cannot be called straight bourbon if it contains any colorings or flavorings that do not come naturally during the aging process. There are many details of the aging process that affects the final taste. While their many advanced techniques to produce the best results, the basic formula and experience of the staff are the critical factors in having exceptional bourbon. One of these is the tasting section, where those with exceptional palates ensure that the taste of each batch is up to standards. Our guide said he has been interviewing for one of those jobs for over ten years. So, I guess I do not have much of a chance to join the ranks of the team. In the barroom (visitor center) they have a photo of one team of these experts and just darn lucky folks.
At the end of the tour, you get to sample a number of the products, including some of the more expensive. Unfortunately, since we had to leave immediately after the happy hour, I had to pass, as the duty driver. Anneke, not a bourbon drinker, never the less stepped into the breach and had my share.
Next we visited the Kentucky History Center in the heart of historic Frankfort. Here the history of the state was followed from the earliest times up to and including the current era. It is an easy and pleasant tour with many interactive displays. I am always looking for WWII war posters that I have not seen before, and sure enough they had one. All in all it was a nice way to spend several hours learning about the history of Kentucky.
Finally, we stopped at the State Vietnam Memorial. It is designed in the form of a sundial. The shadow of the dial falls on the names of those who died, on the anniversary of their death. There are over 1100 names on the dial. It is an impressive sight.