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On the Bourbon Trail

 


by Kathleen Walls

If you want to head your party bus �or family car�for the most fun in Kentucky, go for twenty-first annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. The festival, held in Bardstown, September 11 � 16, 2012, celebrates Kentucky's long love affair with the art of making great Kentucky Bourbon.


A replica of a early Kentucky still at Heaven Hill Distillery

You will find great music, art displays, food, entertainment, ghost tours and 41 major events and attractions including:
The World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay�
Bourbon, Cigars & Jazz�
The Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Gala�
Sip & Savor in the Spirit of Old Kentucky�
Culinary Art: Bourbon-Style Cooking School�
Kentucky Bourbon Breakfast
Bourbon Cocktail Mixology�
Boots & Bourbon�
Festival on the Lawn (lots of free, live music!) |
Kentucky Bourbon Festival Golf Tournament
Kentucky Bourbon All-Star Sampler�
Balloon Glow
Master Distillers Auction
Let's Talk Bourbon�

Cindy, the tour guide at Barton's 1792 Distillery explains the function of some equiptment

The driving force behind and the only reason for this great festival is American's only native sprit, bourbon. The folks in Kentucky have been making whiskey since 1776. It is a craft they brought with them from their native Scotland and Ireland.

I recently had the opportunity to do a tour of some of the distilleries and can tell you first hand that is one festival event you must do. Barton's 1792 Distillery has a new Visitors Center and it's topnotch just like the products it shwocases. Here, your guide will take you through the plant ending with the bottling process and answered many question about the production of bourbon. Afterwards, you head back to the Visitors Center for a tasting of Barton's best products.

Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center also has a state-of-the-art visitor center with its own museum-like exhibits showing the bourbon producing process. You can tour a bourbon warehouse with a knowledgeable guide. The warehousing process is more than just a storage area. Bourbon's unique taste is created while it ages in white oak barrels that have been charred. The place it is stored is referred to as a rickhouse and whether a barrel is placed near the fifteenth or the first floor makes a huge difference in the final product.

Pot still at Kentucky Bourbon Distillers

Your tasting here is in the �Parker Beam Taste of Heaven� barrel-shaped tasting room. These products are also similar yet subtly different from our last tasting, mainly a result of a different storage time and position.

Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, another great stop, is a real family business. It's run by brothers-in law, Drew Kulsveen, Hunter Chavanne, Drew's father, Even, and sister, Britt. They operate a boutique style distillery. You can see the entire distillation process. You will love their pot still. It is so close to those old time moonshine stills. And why not. After all it performs the same task. Naturally you finish off with a tasting. One point I want to stress for anyone planning on visiting Bardstown do not think you can tour just one distillery. Each one offers something different.


Bardstown Jail. Note the orbs.

Bardstown is really old. Founded in 1780, it's the second oldest city in Kentucky. Almost 200 of its downtown buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, so be sure to take a tour of the area. The downtown ghost tours are fun for some spirits of a different kind. You want to pay particular attention to the Old Jail. I got some strange orbs in a photo I took of it. They may only be sunspots but they were different in placement to one another in each of three pictures I took.

Parlor at Wickland

Another place open for tours during the festival is Wickland, the Home of Three Governors. Judith Wickliffe Beckham, one of the homes former residents, is the only woman to ever have been the mother, sister and daughter of a governor. You will be met at the stately old home by Dixie Hibbs, a local historian, and two young twin sisters, Kate and Michael. These two remarkable young ladies are mediums. They have always had spirits come to them and communicate. Sometimes by simple voices in their heads often by showing them visually. Just a few minutes with them and you are convinced they are genuine. These young ladies are not trying to fool anyone or make a buck. They are still trying to cope with a strange gift or curse�sometimes they seem unsure which�that they have been given.

Exhibit in the CW Musuem

Civil War Museum of the Western Theater is a must see. Especially this year during the Sesquicentennial of the War between the States. This museum has so many significant artifacts you will want to plan extra time there.

Do visit the Independent Stave Company in Lebanon while at the festival. They are the place the special white oak barrels are made. It is the aging process in these special barrels that make bourbon unique from any other whiskey.

This is the kind of "party" you will want to attend year after year. Like good whiskey, it just gets better with age.

 

For more info:

http://www.visitbardstown.com/

http:// www.kybourbonfestival.com

 

 

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