FOL Visits Maker’s Mark

FOL Visits Maker’s Mark

Have you ever just grabbed a handful of oatmeal? That’s what it felt like when I of reached my hand into the 3 day old mash tub at Maker’s Mark.  I guess I should back track to the beginning of our tour so you don’t think we just I am just running around sticking my hands into things to ruin your next red dipped bottle.

Maker’s Mark was our first tour of many as Friends of Limestone, as we go along this journey together, I will be highlighting and visiting different distilleries around Kentucky. Maker’s Mark Distillery is located in Loretto, KY, so once you think you’ve gotten lost, you’re almost there! If you haven’t had the chance to visit, it is highly worth the drive.

Onto the tour…

We started out learning a little bit about the history of Maker’s Mark & I could give you the full run down on how Maker’s Mark got started, but that’s what Google is for.

Maker’s Mark helped shape and change the whole bourbon industry. Margie Samuels (wife of Bill Samuels Sr.) is a total badass of the bourbon industry!! It was Margie’s idea to dip the bottles in red wax, starting the process on her kitchen table that happens on the bottling line today.  Even to this day, each bottle is hand dipped. Think about that, every Maker’s Mark bottle is completely different. Pretty crazy huh? She also created a bread recipe that turned into bourbon, designed the logo, and picked the shape of the bottle! (okay done fan-girling over her…but c’mon she’s great!)

Now, if you remember back to my previous post on what makes Bourbon, you should remember that some Bourbons are made with rye and some are made with wheat.  Maker’s Mark is made up of 70% corn, 16% wheat, and 14% barley.  This adds up to a grain alcohol that reaches 110 proof .

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Before combining all of these ingredients to start cooking, Maker’s Mark stands out once again by using a Roller Mill to break up the grains, most distilleries use a hammer mill instead.  The reason behind using a Roller Mill is to help keep the bitter taste out of these grains. Once all of these ingredients are broken up and combined, they are cooked. They spend 3-4 hours cooking, then chill to between 80 and 85 degrees.

Once this mash bill is done cooling, then comes the yeast! From the very first bottle until the one being barreled today, Maker’s Mark has used the same yeast strain. This yeast strain has been passed down over 6 generations, and is kept in different parts of the world (just in case you were wondering, they won’t tell you all the locations!)

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Now on to the fermentation process, this is where each of us got to try out a 1 day old mash, a 2 day old mash, and then the hard oatmeal feeling of a 3 day old mash. The texture and the taste changed after each day. These are fermented in 9600 gallon tubs – TALK ABOUT BIG! The room smells a lot like beer, which to me smelt pretty good! Next we got to see the copper stills, this where you will see what is called White Dog in the bourbon industry (to make it simple, unaged bourbon), and the distilling process begins. This was another cool part of our tour, trying the white dog directly from the still.  If you ever want something to burn your nose, take a good smell of this!

Now the best part! Time to fill up the barrels that give Maker’s sweet smooth taste!  Until this tour, I never really thought about how the barrels were made, I only cared what was in them. Maker’s Mark buys their barrels locally, once the barrels are made, they sit outside for almost a year to get the definite shape and begin to bring out the wood flavors before ever being filled. Once arriving to the distillery, they are charred at a grade 3, to make the bourbon just a little sweeter.

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Each bottle of Maker’s Mark is aged for around 6 years. 3 years at the top of the warehouse and 3 years at the bottom. Throughout this aging process, the barrel is tasted up to 6 times! (Where can I get that job??)  They taste these barrels to guarantee each bottle taste like the very first one.  Can you guess how many barrels are aging at this very moment?! Whatever you’re thinking…think a little higher. Now, guess around 800,000!!

I don’t want to spoil all of the tour details, but when you go, check out the creak that runs through the grounds and the wall that is exposed where the Maker’s 46 and private select bottles are stored. THAT’S ALL LIMESTONE! Bill Samuels Sr. bought this piece of land because of the Limestone water that filtered right on his distillery. Now that is something incredible!

Before I leave you wanting to make the drive to middle of nowhere Kentucky, remember that, each bottle of Maker’s Mark taste like the very first one. Which really means, it’s like having a drink with Mr. Samuels himself, right? .. a girl can dream!

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Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Let’s talk about Limestone.  Limestone is a sedimentary rock and the leading stone extracted and processed in the United States.  Out of all stone mining in the U.S., limestone accounts for roughly 42%.  It is extremely functional, as it is primarily used in the construction industry.  However, it has many uses!

You interact with limestone on a daily basis and you may not even know it.

  • It is used to make the paper you just wasted after trying for the 100th time to operate the office copier.
  • The plastic bag you used to carry a pack of gum out of Kroger.
  • The glass jar of outdated pickles in the back of your refrigerator.
  • The paint on your wall…and, if you did the paint job, possibly on your floor too.
  • The carpet in your house that you keep forgetting to vacuum.
  • The overly priced bottle of water you purchased at Speedway.
  • The food in your 4 for 4 at Wendy’s.

Let us not forget the horses and mint juleps we like to watch/drink on Derby Day!

Have you ever wondered how we extract it? Probably not, so here we go.  The majority is mined through a process called surface mining (some extraction is done through underground methods).  Surface mining mines from the top down, not the bottom up.  In respect to limestone, the process is referred to as quarrying.  Quarrying involves the removal of earth and stone piece by piece with heavy machinery and small explosives.   The end result is a large open pit (quarry).  Once completed, the stone goes to a processing plant.

You may be thinking, “oh, yeah, that’s what those giant holes in the earth are called!”.  Have you ever thought about the environmental impacts from “those giant holes in the earth”? Again, probably not.

If not conducted properly quarrying can have negative environmental impacts.  These include:

  • The removal of trees, vegetated areas, soil, and habitat loss required for many species to live.
  • Contamination of local water sources.
  • Acid mine drainage
  • The use of large amounts of water.
  • The creation of wastewater.
  • Air and soil pollution from heavy machinery.

All pose negative health risks for humans, non-animal species, and nature.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of conservation and preservation.  Another crucial component is sustainability.  Sustainability is a principle that seeks to maintain the balance for both future and present species/generations.  If we are unable to find and maintain this balance, future generations will feel the impacts.  Limestone extraction is not immune.  Alongside practicing conservation and preservation to our limestone reserves, we also need to make certain our extraction methods are sustainable for our present and future generations, as well as the natural environment…and for the 4 for 4 at Wendy’s!

 

Best,

 

Adam

Call Me Old Fashioned

Call Me Old Fashioned

Whether you’re a beginner bourbon drinker or consider yourself a connoisseur, we each have a go-to drink of choice! I’m going to share my favorite cocktails, along with which bourbons go best with certain mixers.

Let’s start with my favorite drink to make when I’m ready for a brunch at home or a good Sunday Funday. There are many ways to make this, but lately I’ve preferred a drink with four ingredients or less so this is it.

Kaitlyn’s BBB (bourbon bubbly brunch)
– 2 oz bourbon
– shot of brut Champagne
– 2 dashes of bitters
– splash of orange juice

If you are drinking this, you likely enjoy sweeter drinks. I recommend pairing this cocktail with a heavier, wheat bourbon rather than a rye. (Common wheat bourbons include: Maker’s, Larceny, & Old Fitzgerald) Be warned, this drink will sneak up on you!


It’s lunch time! Especially when it’s hot out, I tend to lean towards a nice, ice cold Kentucky Mule. It’s simple & refreshing! I like to pair the ginger beer with a bourbon high in rye content, which includes Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Woodford & Old Forester. You can make this as strong or as light as you would like – no judgment here on how heavy your pour is! With any mule, the crushed ice is the main component.


When it comes to dinner time or a late night cocktail, I prefer my FAVORITE drink the Old Fashioned. How can you really go wrong here? I love this drink for its simplicity while keeping such a bold flavor. Everyone has a different version of an Old Fashioned. Some places muddle the cherry and orange making it more of a smash and some throw in a whole slice of orange (which is too much for me).

A Classic Old Fashioned:
– teaspoon of simple sugar (1 cup sugar / 1 cup water to a boil)
– 2 oz bourbon
– 2 or 3 dashes of bitters
– orange peel
– *optional maraschino cherry

Take the orange peel, fold it so the skin is facing the drink, squeeze some of the oils out and rub the skin side around the rim of your glass. Adding that extra citrus will really bring out the different flavors in your bourbon. Most of the time I go with a plain bitters, but every now and then I will use a cherry or rhubarb (so good!) flavor. I personally lean towards a rye bourbon again here but there is no wrong way to drink an Old Fashioned, this is one drink you can definitely make your own!


Now that I’ve taken you through my day filled with bourbon, let’s talk about another thing we all love & how to combine them both. Football.

Tailgate season is quickly approaching here in the South. If you root for red (Go Cards!) or blue, we can all agree that having a good drink before kickoff is a must! I also chose this drink because it’s easy to mix in a large container and throw in the back of your truck.
Spiked Apple Cider (for large groups)
– 1/2 bottle Bourbon
– gallon of Apple Cider
– 2 liter of ginger ale (if you really wanna get crazy you can replace this with ginger beer)
– apple slices for garnish or let them soak all day then eat before game time!

The nice thing about this is that it can be served chilled or heated! (Don’t use ginger beer if you are heating it up … gross.)

Now let’s go have a drink! Cheers!

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Hello everyone! My name is Adam Sizemore. I am from Morehead, Kentucky; a small town located in the Appalachian region of our great state. Even though I do not currently live there, I have lived in Kentucky my entire life and Appalachia has always been important to me.

I moved to Louisville in the summer of 2014 to continue graduate school at UofL. Prior to that summer, I completed both my undergraduate and Masters degrees at Morehead State University. There I became focused on studying environmental issues. 

There isn’t a specific moment I remember becoming interested in environmental matters, but it stretches as far back as Elementary School.  In the 4th grade, I entered a Kentucky conservation-writing contest where I imagined “00H20” (double-oh-H20), a secret agent who gave citations to people with outdated and environmentally unfriendly appliances, water faucets, and toilets.

Maybe I was just a little too obsessed with James Bond; I wonder where that paper is now…

Anyway, my environmental focus has shifted greatly since then! At Morehead State, I was extremely interested in our food system and its impacts on our environment. Now, I am focused on environmental issues in Appalachia; especially coal mining in Central Appalachia. I am currently researching how members of Martin County, Ky overcame a dam failure that released over 300 million gallons of coal waste into the community in the fall of 2000.

Being an advocate for the environment is something that I am passionate about in my career, as well as my personal life.  My wife and I are expecting our first child this November and the well being of our planet for future generations is something that will always be crucial to me.  I am excited to discuss environmental topics, as well as continue to learn more with each of you each month!

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”-Jane Goodall  

What Makes Bourbon, Bourbon?

What Makes Bourbon, Bourbon?

Let’s talk bourbon Kentucky Bourbon.

What makes Kentucky Bourbon so special? Lots of things standout when it comes to bourbon vs. whiskey, and also when it comes to Kentucky Bourbon vs. the rest of the world.

First off, Whiskey vs. Bourbon:

You might have heard a saying that “All bourbon is whiskey is but not all whiskey is bourbon.”

Why is that though? Is it all of the barrels can never have been used before? Maybe it’s that extra corn? It could even be the Angel’s Share?

Bourbon stands out for all of these reasons. Whiskey can reuse charred barrels, where bourbon must be barreled in a new barrel each time.

If you are familiar with bourbon, you are probably familiar with the Angel’s Share. To be considered Bourbon, it must be aged for at least two years, but on average most bourbons are aged between 8 – 15 years (depending on if contains more rye or wheat)! Let me tell you, I hope I am one of these Angel’s because they are tasting some good stuff!

With bourbon aging for so many years, some of the spirit is lost to evaporation from the barrel into the air as it ages. This process does also happen with whiskey, but not as much is lost since the aging process is usually shorter.

Kentucky Bourbon vs. Everyone

Is it the climate, that creates a distinct all four seasons? Weather has a huge impact on the aging process, each distillery has their own tricks of the trade, it really comes down to a simple process.

When it is hot, the barrels expand and when it is cold the wood condenses. The higher the barrel in the rickhouse the hotter it is, closer to the ground, the colder, (I think you get the idea). So throughout the year the spirit is being tossed around, which effects the taste of each final product.

But did you know that Kentucky offers a special water that stands apart?

Don’t get me wrong, the four seasons in Kentucky does make an impact, but we can all thank limestone water for the 95% of bourbon that is made in Kentucky. Limestone makes our state beautiful, and also helps create the one drink we crave either year around or the first Saturday in May.

Iron can taint the flavor, but here in Kentucky the iron is filtered out of the water as it flows over the rock and becomes a sweet-tasting mineral water. Other areas of the country have all four seasons, but they do not have Kentucky water.

So, thank you Limestone .. we wouldn’t have Kentucky bourbon without you!

The Power of Empowerment

The Power of Empowerment

By Gabe Duverge

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone begins it’s journey, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the third part of our four part series on our work. Part one on preservation and confirmation can be found here, and part two on education here

Tucked behind tennis courts and across a street from the Louisville Zoo is a sizable forest. Walking through the trails that cross the area, you should eventually get to the Louisville Nature Center. A modest facility that houses the volunteers and staff who steward the forest, officially known as the Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve.

Whenever I think about empowerment I always think about the Louisville Nature Center. As a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, I found myself at the center often. I can remember weekends spent walking the trails, and never wanting to leave their fantastically cool bird blind. The lessons I learned there helped instill an appreciation for the outdoors that I try to uphold across my life.

The LNC was excellent at not only teaching me how important our surrounding outdoor areas are, but how important it was for me to take care of them. Half of my trips to the center were to pick up trash, and take care of the trails in the forest. I even helped my best friend build benches in the reserve as a high school student, benches which remain there to this day.

My times at the center helped me understand early that every single one of us has a part to play in keeping the nature around us enjoyable. Whether it’s a day picking up small trash or just simply recycling, we all have a part to play.

The same thing goes for our work in Friends of Limestone. If we want Kentucky to be the community we desire it to be, we have to empower each other to get it done. Each of us has to contribute to make the greater whole better.

The term “commonwealth” literally means “a community founded for the common good.” That common good is not possible without each of us doing our part.

Our goal for Friends of Limestone is to not only instill that into others, but also to give citizens the tools to actually make a difference. We want to help you find battles worth fighting, and help you win. We hope you’ll join us.

Meet Our Bourbon Blogger!

Meet Our Bourbon Blogger!

Hi my name is Kaitlyn! I am an avid lover of everything Kentucky but have a secret of growing up in Indiana (it’s not that bad but the drivers are pretty terrible!)

I came to Louisville in 2009, but didn’t have my first drink of whiskey until 2011. I’ll never forget someone convincing me to try Bourbon and loving it! I knew right then, I was never turning back. Fast forward to now, and I was right. I love bourbon more than the average girl. I wouldn’t say that I know everything about bourbon, but I’m excited to learn more with you by side!

“Keep your friends close, & your bourbon closer.” What’s better than sipping a mint julep, old fashion or a drink on the rocks with a good group of friends?

One my favorite things to do is go to Silver Dollar on the last Thursday of the month for their Historic Flights tasting. I have been able to try multiple different bourbons, meet some really cool people, and learned what my palette actually enjoys. I highly recommend this event, and will write more about it later! (P.S. if you live in the Louisville area or are coming to visit, you have to try their brunch!)

To me, bourbon is more than just a great drink. Bourbon represents the culture and beauty of Kentucky, and is usually involved in some of the best memories we’ve all had. If you are from Kentucky or just stumbled upon this, I highly recommend making the trip to Bourbon Country, it truly is one of the most beautiful parts of our state, even if bourbon isn’t your thing! Exploring the distilleries, trying new drinks, and attending many events, I love learning more about the history, the process, and how this bourbon boom isn’t just a Kentucky thing anymore.

I look forward to taking you on my journey with bourbon! Cheers!