I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I visited the gorgeous Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. But if you’ve been following me on social media, you know that it’s been a bonkers few months of travel and imbibing across the country and continents! But it was this Kentucky visit that kicked it all off. And it definitely left its…mark. (see what I did there?)
It was a complete whirlwind but such an incredible experience. As a fan of American history and American whiskey, it was an important one. You see, this was my first time at the historic Maker’s Mark distillery!
From everything I knew prior about the brand and the Samuels family, this visit did not disappoint.
The day that we flew into Louisville, we were treated to a fantastic dinner and tasting at Proof on Main with Bill Samuels Jr, son of Maker’s Mark founders Bill and Margie Samuels.
Listening to Bill’s stories about the origin of this now legendary bourbon was not only fascinating but totally stoked all of us for our visit to the distillery the next day.
For the day of our tour, we were met by Bill’s son and the distillery’s current chief operating officer, Rob Samuels. This is not unusual, however, as Rob is usually on the premises, greeting guests, giving tours and of course, pouring some of that famous whiskey.
Master Distiller, Greg Davis, joined Rob to lead the tour and show the inner workings of the facility.
The Maker’s Mark campus is designed as Margie Samuels envisioned, as a quaint Victorian village in a black and red motif, matching the brand’s colors and spirit.
They have even incorporated the famous bottle shape into the bright red window shutters!
Speaking of Margie, she is also credited for having given Maker’s Mark its name AND coming up with the idea to seal the bottle in red wax, now an iconic (and legally patented) symbol of the brand. Margie was a true pioneer in American bourbon and marketing!
Touring the facilities at Maker’s Mark is truly a lesson in American craftsmanship, precision, and consistency.
Their level of quality control is impressive.
Every step of the way, their operation was a tight ship.
For those that have visited Maker’s Mark, you know one of the greatest thrills is when you have the opportunity to hand dip your own bottles in that signature red wax!
But if you HAVE visited Maker’s Mark in the past, you may notice something a little different the next time you’re there – the addition of Star Hill Provisions, the distillery’s new fast-casual restaurant, located in the beautifully renovated Master Distiller’s House.
Star Hill Provisions was named after the original T.W. Samuels family farm and distillery, Star Hill Farm.
Leading this exciting culinary project is Chef Newman Miller, co-owner and executive chef of acclaimed Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky. Newman Miller has brought with him a devotion to the community – he grew up mere miles from the distillery – and the skill and experience to back up the elevated down home cuisine and seasonal cocktails.
The seasonally changing menu will offer meats and produce straight from the farms of Maker’s Mark employees whenever possible.
One of the most important aspects of this addition of Star Hill Provisions is their offering of cocktails, however. Until recently, distilleries weren’t allowed to sell cocktails under state law. But a change in legislation in 2016 changed all that. So now you can visit this National Historic Landmark, Maker’s Mark Distillery, have a delicious lunch AND fabulous craft cocktail to boot. What more could you ask for?!
I wanted to share my favorite cocktail from Star Hill Provisions created by Chef Newman Miller, called Family Meal. It’s a lovely mix of Maker’s Mark, cold brew and Mexican Coke. So good!
1 ½ parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
¼ part Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate (Chef Newman uses Harden coffee, which is house roasted 15 miles from restaurant)
Mexican Coke, as needed
Lemon Peel, for garnish
Build coffee and Maker’s Mark® Bourbon in a rocks or highball glass. Add ice and stir gently. Top with Mexican cola and finish with oil from a strip of lemon peel.