We’re the Best of Friends… Buffalo Trace Distillery

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MARCH 30, 2016

Laundry and bourbon and present wrapping, oh my! And tomorrow we leave for Ollie Land!

As I drink my morning coffee and write, Jeff is dusting, sweeping, wiping, and “windexing.” I know I should feel guilty but it’s my coffee time. I can’t help it if he wakes up earlier than me. Our routines are so out of synch – another new discovery about each other…

We gather our laundry and head to the washing machines. Bad timing – Henry’s Mom just loaded all 3 machines. Henry is the 6-month-old Schnauzer whose leash is attached to the outside door handle. So we decide to visit the distillery  and come back later to do laundry. While Jeff showers, I take some pics around the campground.

Look at this cute little houseboat!

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It’s a warm, sunny day on the river.

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Buffalo Trace Distillery

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Since 1787 there’s been a working distillery on these grounds. In 1857 a “modern” distillery replaced the old. It also became the first distillery in the nation to use steam power to produce bourbon. By 1886 the whiskey was aged in a climate-controlled warehouse.

During Prohibition the distillery was one of only 4 allowed to operate for medicinal purposes. (buffalotrace.com)

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In 1999 the distillery was renamed after the new owners researched the history of the area. Migrating buffalo carved wide paths, called traces, in the wilderness, opening up travel routes for explorers and pioneers. The Great Buffalo Trace led to the banks of the Kentucky River.  The abundant limestone springs and fertile soil of sand, silt, and clay made it a perfect area for growing grain.

Bourbon Basics:

  • Ingredients – corn, malted barley, spicy rye, yeast, and water
  • At least 51% has to be corn.
  • Bourbon has to be at least 80 proof.
  • The aging process has to take place in brand new white oak barrels. The wood inside is then charred to add flavoring.
  • 8-13 years best amount of time for aging… Less=too green, More=too tannic

The aging warehouse smells heavenly. Each barrel holds 53 gallons of bourbon and, depending on how long it is stored, evaporation reduces its content. This loss is called the “angels’ share.” (buffalotrace.com)

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As they age, the barrels extract the color and flavoring of the charred wood inside as each barrel is exposed to the 4 seasons of Kentucky’s climate. Of course, barrels that age on the middle floor experience the most temperature changes. The top floor barrels mature at warmer temps while the bottom floor barrels encounter cooler temps.

After the proper amount of aging, 40 barrels are selected for a taste test. Each barrel is sampled by a panel of judges. Every judge must give a thumbs-up for that barrel to  pass inspection. After 40 barrels make the cut, the bourbon is blended and bottled.

Meanwhile… After Prohibition, Albert Blanton took over the distillery. He began producing single barrel bourbon for his own enjoyment and the pleasure of his friends. In 1984 Buffalo Trace was the first distillery to commercially market a single barrel bourbon appropriately named, Blanton’s. (buffalotrace.com)

Blanton’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is hand bottled.

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Today’s labels on the assembly line are green because they are being shipped overseas. No bottles are available for our purchase today because the limited run is sold out.

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There are 8 Blanton’s collectible horse toppers.

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The highlight of the tour is the sampling… and for dessert, Bourbon Cream and candy!

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We’re the Best of Friends… Frankfort, Kentucky

image And it’s a good thing too!

After almost 7 full months of 24/7 together, Jeff and I have had to work out some bumps on the road. You don’t really know someone until you spend every waking moment with that person. We’ve discovered a few new irritating things about each other, imagine that! All the tension, however, turns into pearls of laughter!

Anyway…

MARCH 29, 2016

Leaving Mammoth Cave is not easy, literally. The “pull-thru” we’re parked in is more of a “pull-off”, a turn-out lane beside the road. What we didn’t realize, heading into our site, was just how close we parked to the trees on either side and the awkward angle of the RV.

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Jeff manages though, with my help. With only inches away from taking down a tree, he successfully wiggles in reverse and we’re free!

Away we go in search of bourbon. Destination – Frankfort, KY for 2 nights and a visit to the Buffalo Trace Distillery. We pass into Eastern Daylight Savings time.

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Merrily we roll along until we stop for gas outside of Bardstown.  Again, it’s the geometry involved – the angles of maneuvering a 35 foot RV with a car attached to a tow dolly. Gas stations can be a real challenge because of the cast iron rail guards that protect the pumps. If we angle in close enough for the gas nozzle to reach, the tow dolly can end up in a precarious spot for pulling out. Whatever physics is involved, the wheels on the dolly want to turn in toward that guard rail when we need them to turn out.

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Thus we face our 2nd tight spot of the day pulling out of the gas station. Jeff and I have to manually turn the wheels out on the tow. Then Jeff jumps back into the RV to move it forward a few inches until I tell him to stop when the wheels turn in toward the guard rail again. We repeat this process 5 or 6 times until we are all clear. Yay!

We’re almost at our stopover and the scenery is beautiful.

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But wait, troubles come in threes, they say, whoever “they” are. We arrive at our destination, Kentucky River Camp,

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and a truck attached to a trailer is blocking the entrance. We’re stuck because with our tow dolly attached we cannot back up and there is no room to drive around the truck.

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Apparently the people are getting ready to leave but they hooked up the truck first before packing up. Even RV rookies like us know it’s an unwritten rule of the road – pack up first, hook up last. Eventually the green pickup backs up a little and we squeeze by with a little help from the park host.

All the trials and tight spots of the day are worth it, however, as we back into our site overlooking the Kentucky River.

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Take a look for yourself!

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MARCH 30, 2016

Laundry and bourbon and present wrapping, oh my! And tomorrow we leave for Ollie Land!

As I drink my morning coffee and write, Jeff is dusting, sweeping, wiping, and “windexing.” I know I should feel guilty but it’s my coffee time. I can’t help it if he wakes up earlier than me. Our routines are so out of synch – another new discovery about each other…

We gather our laundry and head to the washing machines. Bad timing – Henry’s Mom just loaded all 3 machines. Henry is the 6-month-old Schnauser whose leash is attached to the outside door handle. So we decide to visit the distillery  and come back later to do laundry. While Jeff showers, I take some pics around the campground.

Look at this cute little houseboat!

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image

image

It’s a warm, sunny day on the river.

image

image


Buffalo Trace Distillery

image

Since 1787 there’s been a working distillery on these grounds. In 1857 a “modern” distillery replaced the old. It also became the first distillery in the nation to use steam power to produce bourbon. By 1886 the whiskey was aged in a climate-controlled warehouse.

During Prohibition the distillery was one of only 4 allowed to operate for medicinal purposes.

image

In 1999 the distillery was renamed after the new owners researched the history of the area. Migrating buffalo carved wide paths, called traces, in the wilderness, opening up travel routes for explorers and pioneers. The Great Buffalo Trace led to the banks of the Kentucky River.  The abundant limestone springs and fertile soil of sand, silt, and clay made it a perfect area for growing grain.

Bourbon Basics:

  • Ingredients – corn, malted barley, spicy rye, yeast, and water
  • At least 51% has to be corn.
  • Bourbon has to be at least 80 proof.
  • The aging process has to take place in brand new white oak barrels. The wood inside is then charred to add flavoring.
  • 8-13 years best amount of time for aging… Less=too green, More=too tannic

The aging warehouse smells heavenly. Each barrel holds 53 gallons of bourbon and, depending on how long it is stored, evaporation reduces its content. This loss is called the “angels’ share.”

image

image

As they age, the barrels extract the color and flavoring of the charred wood inside as each barrel is exposed to the 4 seasons of Kentucky’s climate. Of course, barrels that age on the middle floor experience the most temperature changes. The top floor barrels mature at warmer temps while the bottom floor barrels encounter cooler temps.

After the proper amount of aging, 40 barrels are selected for a taste test. Each barrel is sampled by a panel of judges. Every judge must give a thumbs-up for that barrel to  pass inspection. After 40 barrels make the cut, the bourbon is blended and bottled.

Meanwhile… After Prohibition, Albert Blanton took over the distillery. He began producing single barrel bourbon for his own enjoyment and the pleasure of his friends. In 1984 Buffalo Trace was the first distillery to commercially market a single barrel bourbon appropriately named, Blanton’s.

Blanton’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is hand bottled.

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Today’s labels on the assembly line are green because they are being shipped overseas. No bottles are available for our purchase today because the limited run is sold out.

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There are 8 Blanton’s collectible horse toppers.

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The highlight of the tour is the sampling… and for dessert, Bourbon Cream and candy!

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We Go Down the Highway… To Mammoth Cave

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MARCH 27, 2016

Destination: Mammoth Cave National Park

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The highlight of our drive: crossing the mighty Mississippi River

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We find a nice peaceful spot in the campground to boon-dock for the next 2 nights.

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A late evening rumble of thunder announces a coming storm and we snuggle up under blankets as the rain washes the night, lightning blinks on and off, and the wind serenades us into slumber.


MARCH 28, 2016

A cold, overcast start to the day as we plan our morning hike… Since we toured the cave before, we decide to stay above ground this visit. We have hope that the sun will eventually find us as we begin our hike through the sandstone and shale ridges that lie over the more than 365 miles of cave passageways.

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The Green River runs through Mammoth Cave National Park for 27 miles. For awhile its Riverboats were the only way for visitors to reach the park.

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The River Styx branches off the Green River…

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…and forms a spring pool from a trickling mini-waterfall.

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This is the opening to the Dixon Cave, an area blocked off to the public as the rare Indiana bats hibernate inside. A sinkhole causing an underground landslide separated this cave from the rest of Mammoth Cave.

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Finally the clouds break up into patches of blue sky and the sun makes everything shine in various shades of green.

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Even the deer come out to enjoy the sunshine.

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Native Americans hunted animals in the Green River Valley and mined minerals and crystals from the caves in the area.

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More About Mammoth:

  • A In the 1790s European-Americans settled here and bought slaves to mine saltpeter from the cave to manufacture gunpowder.
  • A 17-year-old slave, Stephen Bishop, was one of the first to explore many miles of the cave.
  • He, along with 2 other slaves, Mat and Nick Bransford, began conducting cave tours in 1838.
  • Descendants of the Bransfords continued to guide tours for the next 100 years.
  • 350 million years ago a shallow sea covered the Mammoth Cave area.
  • Sediments from the sea formed limestone layers over a period of 70 million years.
  • Groundwater slowly dissolving the limestone continues to create the underground landscapes called karst topography.

All information above came from the National Park brochure, plaques on the trail, and nps.org.