Monday, April 28, 2014

Trip Photos

If you have an interest in checking out more photos from the trip, I've added them to my Flickr feed and created a new collection that contains all my photos.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's a Wrap

Well, our road trip to the South is complete.  It was a great time, particularly nice to be able to spend it with my parents and Carol.

In the end we did over 2000 miles of driving. Hitting (or at least touching) the following states - Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.  By far and away our two favorites were Tennessee and Kentucky.

For me, the top moments / stops were:
  1. Our power day of Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
  2. Beale Street in Memphis and listening to blues at BB King's and Jerry Lee Lewis' bars.
  3. Shiloh National Battlefield.
  4. Touring the Buffalo Trace and Woodford Distilleries.
  5. Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
  6. Independence Missouri and Harry Truman's home.
I'll update this posting some time tomorrow with a link to where all of the pictures can be found.

Long Ride Back to Kansas City

Saturday was the start of our long trek home.  An eight hour drive from Lexington to Kansas City.  St. Louis is just about right in the middle, so we stopped there for lunch and a look at the Arch.  Time was not on our side here.  With a lot of driving left to go, St. Louis was more of a drive by than anything else:

Mom and Dad enjoying a very sunny day:

Lexington, KY

We spent Friday night in Lexington.  I don't have a lot to pass along regarding Lexington.  It seems like a relatively clean, safe, friendly town.  We arrived at around 6pm and went out for dinner at a place named Willie's Locally Owned.  I was a little confused as to why a Kentucky place serving barbeque would serve only Kansas City style ribs.  The ribs were definitely good, I was hoping for something a little more local than what we got here.

We chose this place both for the food and because it offered live music.  This guy below was a very talented one man show named Derek Spencer:

And here's the final act of the night - Paper Bridges:

Frankfort, KY

Carol, my Dad, and I spent most of Friday visiting distilleries.  Mom spent that time shopping and exploring downtown Frankfort, capital of Kentucky.  After picking Mom up at the end of the day, we made a quick drive above town to the cemetery to visit Daniel Boone's grave:

When you turn around 180 degrees from Daniel Boone's grave, you look down upon the Kentucky River and Frankfort.  A couple seperate shots and a panorama:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bourbon Country

If you ever get the chance to visit the area around Frankfort Kentucky, visiting some of the local bourbon distilleries is very much worth it.  To give you some perspective, these are just some of the distilleries that exist between Louisville and Lexington - Wild Turkey, Makers Mark, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, Evan Williams, and Heaven Hill.

Buffalo Trace:

Since we were based out of Frankfort today we first targeted Buffalo Trace, which is right there in town.  The history of this distillery is pretty interesting.  I had no idea that these guys bottled so many brands, including Pappy Van Winkle.  Some interesting facts about Buffalo Trace:

1. Distillation has been going on in this site since at least 1773.
2. The distillery remained open during the prohibition era, as a legal distillery.
3. The existing iteration of the business is responsible for such labels as Blanton's, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Elmer T. Lee, George T. Stagg, Van Winkle, and others.
4. The roof was taken off one of the warehouses by a tornado a few years ago.  No barrels were lost.  Those barrels were later bottled as a special edition tornado bourbon.

We took the Trace Tour (there are others you can take), which gives you an overview of the distillery process, warehousing, and bottling.  At the tasting we got to sample Buffalo Trace Straight Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream, and some of the Vodka that they've been making.  All very excellent.  I can see a big future for the Bourbon Cream in my liquor cabinet.

Here are some shots from around Buffalo Trace:

First, the building that got hit by the tornado is on the right:

Each time these guys roll out a new x-millionth barrel, they place it in this tiny rickhouse:

With barrels weighing 500 pounds when full, they obviously aren't easily moved around.  Here's the rail system that these guys use to roll barrels between different rickhouses (ricks are what they call the wood rails that the barrels are kept on in the houses - thus rickhouse).

Four Roses:

Later in the day, we took a quick drive down to Four Roses.  This is much more of a pure production site.  We didn't bother with the tour and moved on down the road to Woodford.

Woodford Reserve:

Next stop was Woodford Reserve, home of Distillers Select and Double Oaked.  We took a similar tour to the one at Buffalo Trace; however, got to see some of the fermentation process as well.  Here's our budding bourbon aficionado beside a bubbling mixture of corn, rye, barley, water and yeast:

Again, similar setup of rickhouses and rails for moving barrels around.  The fermentation house is on the left here:

Inside the rickhouse that you see above:

The post tour tasting.  Carol scoring an A by beating most of the class to the bottom of her samples:

Overall Impressions:

I really enjoyed Buffalo Trace.  The place has a great vibe, friendly people, and most of all seems to be a very innovative distillery.  These guys are constantly playing around with different aging tactics, formulations, etc.  As bourbons age in their barrels, they're carefully matching different barrels to the flavor profiles of their brands and reacting accordingly.

When you go to Woodford or Four Roses, they're much more production line type facilities.  Four Roses makes 3 bourbons, Woodford 2.  Four Roses actually distill 10 different mashbills; however, they all get blended to create their 3 different labels.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rolling on to Kentucky

We left Nashville around noon today and headed north to Kentucky.

Our primary goal for the day was to visit the Mammoth Caves and possibly visit a distillery or two along the way up to Frankfort.  Unfortunately we didn't find enough time to get to the bourbon.  That'll have to wait for tomorrow.

As far as size goes, Mammoth Caves is impressive.  Certainly not the most beautiful though.  If you're looking for beautiful caves, I'd highly recommend Horn Lake Caves Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.  We visited Horn Lake last year during our yearly family visit to Qualicum beach.  The Horn Lake caves offer you the chance to see some very interesting calcite formations, very close up.  You see the odd interesting formation at Mammoth, certainly nothing that compares to Horn Lake.

Regardless, here are some pictures from Mammoth caves:

The following column-like formations were the most interesting thing that we saw at Mammoth: