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My visit to the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky

There are very few moments in my 30+ year old life that are eye opening, and visiting the Maker’s Mark distillery was one of them. Imagine being a huge sneaker head and visiting the Nike compound, or being a fan of Beyoncé and sitting in the studio with her while she recorded? Yes for a spirit writer a distillery is our holy grail. The experience and appreciation I have in the making of bourbon will forever stay with me.

Evoke the Spirits visits the Maker's Mark distillery
Evoke the Spirits visits the Maker's Mark distillery
Francisco Lopez
Maker's Mark Bourbon Barrels
Francisco Lopez

Kentucky is the motherland for bourbon, countless bourbons are distilled there and Maker’s Mark is one of the leaders. One of my goals was to see how the barrels are made, and also the process of how they (Maker’s Mark) determine what makes the perfect bourbon. Once we were transported to the distillery, the fun really began. First was how the barrels were stored, then the making of barrelheads. After, we learned how the barrels were constructed which is the stave department. Next is the charring process, which gives the smoky taste to the bourbon. The last step is what finishes the process before the barrels were sent to the distillery.

The Maker’s Mark distillery was as glorious as one can imagine. My co-writer Dewayne and I just stood back in admiration of everything. From tasting something that smelled like hot beer, to trying the liquid before it turns brown, to also seeing how the labels were made. Here is a sample look at the distillery. The last part was by far my favorite part, which was the dipping of the bottle head. We were able to duplicate the iconic red wax dripping bottle head that Maker’s Mark carries. I was able to dip my own bottle and get an inside look in the making of each bottle of Maker’s Mark. Lastly, we spoke with Greg Davis the master distiller, who helped us understand the whole process of creating the drink from beginning to end.

The last part of our trip to the distillery was meeting Bill Samuels Jr., 7th generation of Maker’s Mark and his wife. Bill’s house is immaculate, as far as the inside and outside of the house but also he has so much history of bourbon and American history, for all history buffs, his house is a must see. Everyone in the group (press/media) was in awe of everything especially because Bill and his wife were so hospitable and hilarious to be around. To give you a better understanding of how our time with Mr. Samuels was, he made all of us a cocktail to start the day. Bill had so many wonderful stories including how Bill Samuels Sr. wrote a $35,000 check to buy the distillery in central Kentucky. The elder Samuels concocted the recipe that became Maker’s Mark, and it was his wife, Margie, who came up with the idea of adorning the bottles with dripping red wax. It was these types of stories that captivated all of us. When it was all said and done we all left the Samuels home feel like we made a friend for life, and the experience will always be a highlight in my life.

I would like to thank Beam Global, Maker’s Mark and the good folks over at Evins PR for such an amazing experience. February 26th marks 60 years of Maker’s Mark bourbon, salute and cheers to you!

For more cocktail ideas and adventures click on #Drinks. Cheers and Salute!