This weekend offered another trip to the Little Cabin in the Woods in Southern Ohio – an excuse to celebrate Cindy’s birthday. Actually, the weekend celebrated more than Cindy’s birthday as she has just pushed the magic “send” button to alert the Ohio Department of Education and the State Teachers Retirement System of her pending retirement at the end of this school year!
Margie’s Cabin is a favorite get-away with visits usually requiring jaunts around the Amish countryside and overnight stays in a local B&B (see previous blog.) This time Cindy, Lois and I stayed at Margie’s cabin which was as charming as any B&B in the area. As always, Margie had an agenda in store – a trip down the “spirited” Kentucky Bourbon trail where winding country roads roam through horse country, and world-renowned Bourbon distilleries offer free tours and tasting.
We first landed at the Four Roses Distillery where we jumped on the 2:00 tour. This distillery has a unique history in that it was granted permission to operate through prohibition -- to produce Bourbon for medicinal purposes, of course. It has been operating continuously since 1910.
On the tour we discovered that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be:
To begin the process corn is ground into meal and mixed with limestone spring water and cooked in a "mash tub." The water temperature is lowered and rye is added for a second cooking, followed by barley. Then the mash is cooled to 60 degrees and yeast is added for fermentation. During this process the grain sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxides; above the boiling vats, the air is pure CO2! On this part of the tour the sweet smell of yeast fills the air.
After three to four days of fermentation, the mash is ready for distillation to separate out the alcohol. The mash is no longer needed for bourbon creation and is picked up by farmers as feed for their (happy) cows and pigs!
From Four Roses we traveled to the Wild Turkey distillery and were walked through the same process in a very different and much larger setting.
Here is a brief history of bourbon at Wild Turkey:
1789 – A new whiskey formula using corn, rye and barley was started in Kentucky by the Reverend Elija Craig.
1840 – Whiskey processed in Bourbon Co. Kentucky officially became known as Bourbon.
1869 – A distillery was established on Wild Turkey hill in Lawrenceburg, KY; today’s Wild Turkey.
1919-1933 – Distilleries closed down due to prohibition.
1954 – Jimmy Russell, current master distiller, joined the distillery where he still works today with his son Eddie Russell
1964 – The USA established standards (mentioned above) for producing bourbon.
Both tours offered the opportunity for sampling a range of Bourbons. While none of us are Bourbon enthusiasts -- this stuff did seem to go down smoothly; I came home with three "souvenir" bottles for the Bourbon-lovers in my family!
Time did not allow for another afternoon tour so Margie drove us to the highpoint of the day -- dinner at The Woodford Inn! Built in 1876 as the Versailles Female College the property later served as the Cleveland Orphanage and a Life Adventure Camp for at-risk youth.Today it is a B&B with 10 rooms on the second floor and Addie's Restaurant downstairs.
Local Vito's Sausage Golabki
Vito's sausage and rice stuffed cabbage roll topped with roasted tomato sauce
-Served with Wild Turkey Rare Breed-
Braised Rabbit served on a bed of cheesy grits with sauteed asparagus
-Served with Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve cocktail-
Chocolate whoopie pie with a Wild Turkey American Honey cream filling
We were educated about each Wild Turkey product at the beginning of a course, and our hosts made the round of tables to answer questions and chat.
Back at the cabin by 10:00 at night, Lois, Cindy and I settled into the comfort of Margie's private little B&B, tired after a long day and thankful for a fun and spirited trip!
I have now toured three of the seven distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail during two different excursions. I will have an opportunity to knock off a few more in May when I gather at My Old Kentucky Home with a caravan of campers from the Blue Ridge TAB Rally! Between now and then the camping schedule picks up and I am hoping to be posting more frequently!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown