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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Louisville: Elijah Craig Distillery Tour

Mrs. Lambchop suggested that we all go visit Elijah Craig Distillery today to take their tour and learn about how whiskey is made. I know quite a bit about wine but virtually nothing about whiskey and how it is made. It was a little bit of a trek to get there but I was so super excited to learn something new. Mr. Rogue was even more excited since he loves to sip liquors. Thankfully once we arrived a tour was scheduled to start soon. We moseyed around the gallery hall learning a little bit about the history of Elijah and the birth of whiskey.

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The tour started with a short video and a little run down from the tour guide. Whisky is made from different fermented grains and then stored in wooden casks aged at different intervals until they are drank. In its infancy whiskey was used as a medicine and it was very raw and brutal because it wasn’t allowed to age nor was it diluted. Over time whisky evolved into a much smoother drink. In America whiskey was used as a form of currency. The whiskey that shot up in Kentucky is Bourbon Whiskey; whiskey which is made from corn.

Elijah Craig has been dubiously been credited with the invention of bourbon whiskey. Apparently by accident the oak casks had caught on fire just before the whiskey was supposed to be stored. Being a frugal man he decided to use the charred casks anyways. The whiskey that came out of these casks was smoother with a beautiful red coloring and its wonderful oak flavor.

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After our little lesson we headed out the door for the short walk to the warehouses. Of course it was freezing, and it was raining… of course. Once you got past the weather, and the closer we got to the warehouses the more pronounced the smell became. The most beautiful thick delicious smell was coming from the warehouse. Hundreds of thousands of barrels are stored in large metal warehouses. The warehouses get super cold in the winter causing everything to constrict and then get super hot in the summer causing everything to expand. Over and over again this process occurs while the barrels are stored for years, being occasionally turned but mostly just sitting and aging.

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Apparently the 18 year old bourbon that they sell constricts and expands so much and releases such a great amount of aroma into the air that by the time the cask is ready to be bottled about 2/3 of the barrels contents has been evaporated. This is called the Angels share and the whiskey that results is an award winning super smooth drink.

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After the tour at the warehouses was over we headed to the tasting room. My mom very graciously offered to stay with the kids in the main area so both Mrs. Lambchop and I could taste. Each seat was set with various things. There were two small vials, two of their types of whiskey, and then there was a small carafe of water. We first picked up the small vials. These were just tests to open up our noses and get them cleaned out for smelling the whiskey. The first I identified correctly as some kind of citrus, it ended up being grapefruit. The second was a little more elusive, at first I thought it was some type of evergreen but it ended up being juniper. After our little smell test we were guided to smell the first whiskey. It was wonderful to be able to correctly identify the oak and vanilla smells and though the taste was WAY TOO STRONG for me I could at least appreciate and apply what I learned to what I tasted. What was also interesting was that adding just a touch of water to the whiskey released a bouquet of even more intense smells. No matter how divine it smells whiskey will just never be my drink. Although whiskey wasn’t my drink the whiskey flavored chocolates we were given as we left the taste testing room were much more to my taste!

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After we were starving so we grabbed a quick bite to eat. Mrs. Lambchop suggested one of their favorite local places Black House. The food was so good. Every single one of us loved our meal which is pretty impressive with the large group we had. We headed home with full bellies. Super tired we vegged in front of a movie. Traveling, especially traveling across time zones takes so much out of me.

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2 comments:

Jennifer Arens said...

Bourbon smells so good, then tastes awful haha. Brick house is the bomb! Soooo cold!

paul peggy zeus said...

I learned the difference between whiskey and bourbon. That was an interesting excursion. Loved the bourbon chocolate balls the best!

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