Kyle and I took a day trip up to Loretto, KY to experience the Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour. This was our second time taking the tour and it was just as enjoyable as the first time. After our first tour, about 7 years ago, Kyle put his name on a barrel as part of their ambassador program. Well, his barrel was ready, so we had to make a trip back up there to pick up a few bottles from his barrel. I’d definitely recommend taking a trip here, it was a great experience!
Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour
The drive from Knoxville to Loretto, KY is a little over 3 hours one way. It’s only a 1 hour one way drive from Louisville, KY, which is a really fun city to visit, and you could make a great weekend trip out of it. Maker’s Mark is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, so if you are really into bourbon, that would be a fun trip to plan, too!
The Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour runs multiple times throughout the day, everyday. (Well, they’re probably closed on holidays and such, so just check their website for specifics.) We visited on a Saturday afternoon. It was pretty busy but we were able to get on a tour within 15 minutes of arriving. The current price is $14 for adults, which includes the tour and bourbon tasting. (Again, visit the website for specifics!)
The tour takes you around the property to see all the various steps of creating their bourbon. It’s about an hour long and we probably walked less than half a mile by the end of it. I’d say half of the tour was inside and the other half was outside. The only problem that I ran into was that a few of the buildings were extremely hot: which really, really sucks being 28 weeks pregnant and doing the tour in the middle of July. So, just keep weather and all of that in mind when planning your trip.
Most of the buildings on the property are black with red trim and the grounds are beautiful and green.
The Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour starts out in the building where they make the mash from raw ingredients (wheat, corn, and barley) and then move it to these huge barrels to start the fermentation process. This was the building that was extremely hot so it was hard for me to pay attention to what our tour guide was saying… so I don’t really remember all the details. It was really neat to see the active fermentation happening. And it smelled delicious in there.
We saw a few different places where they age the barrels of bourbon. The one is this picture is specifically for the private selection barrels. Our tour guide explained how the barrels are made and aged.
Then we walked through the production area, where the bottles get lids, labels, and the wax seal is hand dipped. There were no workers operating the production line since we visited on the weekend.
On to the best part: the tasting! Obviously, I wasn’t able to partake since I am pregnant, but Kyle enjoyed having double the amount for his tasting.
It was really laid back so it would be enjoyable for those who are not so into tastings. I remember laughing when the tour guide said to “nose it.” AKA: smell the bourbon before you drink it. They also have bourbon chocolate samples at the end.
The room between the tasting room and gift shop was beautiful. The ceiling had Chihuly glass all over and the sides had aging bourbon barrels. This would be a great spot to wait for the room to clear out and then snap a few photos.
Besides the bourbon tasting, hand dipping your own wax seal on a bottle of Maker’s Mark is a must. We purchased three bottles that were from Kyle’s barrel. The labels have his name on them, which is pretty neat. (We’re saving them for a special occasion. We are planning to open the first one to celebrate when our little girl is born in a few months!)
It’s pretty quick and easy to hand dip your own bottle and I highly recommend doing it! I just took photos of Kyle doing it, but still, someone in your group should dip a bottle.
Maker’s Mark recently opened an on-site restaurant and bar, Star Hill Provisions. I guess my expectations were higher because I was not impressed with the food. I thought it would be a nice, sit down restaurant with creative food options. Instead, they had a limited lunch menu with a few sandwiches and salads to choose from. They do offer dinner service (at $100/person), which I’d assume is a lot better than the lunch for the price. I’d say skip eating here unless you are starving and need some food ASAP.
After the tour is the perfect time to walk the grounds and take some photos. Here’s me and my 28 week bump!
One of Kyle’s hand dipped bottles! I love the signature look of a Maker’s Mark bottle. If you want to get a specialty bottle like this for yourself, just join the Maker’s Mark Ambassador Program. I’m planning to join this year, so we’ll probably end up taking the tour again in another 7 years or so, next time with a little one in tow.