Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A motorcycle ride, a visit to a distillery, and a hat for a friend

The still room
We recently made a trip on the bike to the annual Tennessee Lunch Run at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  It was, as always, wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. Along the way, the group with which we were riding made a stop at Woodford Reserve Distillery to see how bourbon is made.  I am not a major consumer of bourbon, but I found the buildings and the processes involved in its production very interesting.  You can click on the name of the distillery above to visit their Web site.

The buildings are all limestone, every stone hand-laid by Scottish and Irish artisans who were brought to America by the distillery owners for just that purpose.  The walls of the buildings are two feet thick, allowing the bourbon to stay at a fairly constant temperature and, the tour guide informed us, to assure that its flavor is the very best.
Steve (a.k.a. "Polecat") admires the large copper stills

I had just a camera phone in my pocket for our tour, and wish I could go back with a really good camera and a UV filter to better capture the warm beauty of the stone buildings, the oak barrels, and the copper stills.  It was a lovely, calm, and quiet place and I enjoyed the visit immensely.

Bourbon ages in barrels for at least four years

Beautiful stone walls

A barrel hoist

The barrel run allows the barrels to be rolled on a track from building to building
The scent of aging bourbon filled the air in this building.  Our guide called the fragrance "the Angels' Share", as it is considered the refinery's gift to the angels for watching over the process.  A refinery fire is a dreadful thing, indeed, and the angels must be vigilant to prevent its occurrence. 
Another view of the barrel run, and the weighing station

New oaken barrels await their contents

By state regulation, barrels may only be used one time in the bourbon-aging process.  They must be toasted and charred on the inside before filling.  After the contents are emptied, the barrels are sold for other uses, but can never be used again to make bourbon.  Woodford Reserve owns and operates their own cooperage to produce the barrels used to age their products.
Emptying the aged bourbon from the barrels so that it can be filtered, mixed, and bottled

Mill stone as wall decoration

Such craftsmanship!

After touring the grounds, we returned to the refinery gift shop where we tasted the bourbon produced at Woodford Reserve.  Several of our traveling companions purchased bottles of bourbon, but I contented myself with some bourbon-flavored caramels and praline pecans.

The trip was wonderful, as all trips are where every participant arrives home again, safe and sound.  We had fair weather for the ride there, and good company along the way. The return ride was pretty miserable though, with cold temperatures and extremely high head winds all the way from Tennessee to home.

One of my chat-room friends from North Carolina teased me until I promised to knit him a hat in Harley-Davidson colors.  The yarn was a new one to me, Berroco Vintage in red-orange and black.  It was lovely and soft to knit up into this Jacques Cousteau Hat. I had hoped to have it finished in time to deliver it at the lunch run, but had to mail it to Ken after we returned home. He has pronounced it fit to wear. : )
Diesel-Dawg's new hat

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