Kentucky and bourbon. Some things just go together. And along the Kentucky River the land is sweet with amber liquid.

As bourbon enthusiasts, McCrae and I couldn't visit Kentucky and not check out a distillery, but with only one afternoon free out of the long weekend we certainly couldn't do the whole Bourbon Trail. So we picked one distillery to visit: Buffalo Trace, a good choice based on our tastes, and we might have harbored a hope for some Pappy van Winkle. 

On a Sunday morning before the local churches finished their sermons we met up with a large crowd inside the Buffalo Trace gift shop where guides split us into groups to tour the distillery. History, scorched brick, barrels, and brown, delicious booze - I reveled in the sharp, sweet smell and the texture of the historic buildings and every scenic inch of the campus.

It came as no surprise to us when the guide explained there were more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there were people in Kentucky. We'd been through enough long stretches of hilly countryside with no rest stops or towns to believe such a claim. The only thing that puzzled me though was all the scorch marks on the buildings. It's no secret that bourbon is aged in charred white oak barrels, but why the charring on the buildings and the trees?

Buffalo Trace is named for the trails buffalo would use to access the Kentucky River - "trace" being another name for "trail." We meandered along traces worn by tourists' feet and sipped samples at a windowsill overlooking the courtyard leading down to the 6 millionth barrel of Buffalo Trace. It was a nice relaxing interlude between the excitement of Mammoth Cave and the stagnant heat of Natural Bridge.

As we left McCrae and I talked about going back and doing the Bourbon Trail properly one day - or maybe even biking it! Are there any distilleries you particularly like to visit?


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