Maker’s Mark Celebrates 60 Years of Bourbon with Chihuly Installation

by Rebecca Rhoades
( April 7th, 2014 )

Chihuly's The Spirit of the Maker installation

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit Kentucky and tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Formed in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers Association, the Bourbon Trail is a collection of seven distilleries—Town Branch, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill, and Jim Beam—stretching about 70 miles between Lexington and Louisville. Each distillery offers tours in which guests learn about the mechanical and chemical processes involved in making bourbon. Visitors also get to view the bourbon being made and wander through the rickhouses, where thousands of barrels of bourbon are stored in climate-controlled environments during the long aging process. And while each tour varies based on the distillery’s size, architectural style, and on-site facilities (for example, Four Roses does not age its barrels on property, so there’s no rickhouse to visit), one thing is certain, after visiting three or four distilleries in a day, the rickhouses all start to look the same.

But now, visitors to Maker’s Mark are in for a special treat. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Maker’s Mark has teamed with legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly to present The Spirit of the Maker, a stunning 36- by 6-foot ceiling installation inside the rickhouse that connects to the tasting rooms. (All of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail offer free tastings of their spirits—another great reason to take the tours!)

Closeup detail of Chihuly's The Spirit of the Maker installation

Opened to the public on March 27, The Spirit of the Maker is the first major installation of Chihuly’s work on public view in Kentucky. Resembling the artist’s famed ceiling installation in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the creation is made of about 1,300 individual pieces of glass. Its colors—blue for water, amber and green for corn and wheat, and red for the distillery’s signature wax—were specifically chosen to represent bourbon and Maker’s Mark.

Dale Chihuly and Makers Mark COO Rob Samuels

“We wanted to further enhance the distillery experience for all visitors by offering something that was distinctive to any distillery anywhere in the world,” said Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Office Rob Samuels (seen above on right with Dale Chihuly), whose grandparents Margie and Bill Samuels, Sr., founded the historic distillery.

Guests can view The Spirit of the Maker during Maker’s Mark’s regular operating hours, Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., and Sundays, 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

About Maker’s Mark

Bourbon samples in Makers Mark tasting glasses

Founded in 1954 in Loretto, Kentucky, the Maker’s Mark distillery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980. Today, it is one of Kentucky’s most popular tourist attractions, welcoming more than 120,000 visitors annually.

In addition to The Spirit of the Maker, the distillery is in the final stages of completing a permanent exhibition of historic artifacts to enhance the visitor experience, which will include the original pot still that Bill Samuels, Sr., used to handcraft his first batch of Maker’s Mark; the first Maker’s Mark barrel ever made; and an exact replica of the original papier-mâché bottle designed by Margie Samuels. For those who don’t know, Margie was responsible for creating the Maker’s Mark name and look, including the label, font, and iconic red wax that each bottle is still hand-dipped in today.

For more information, visit Maker’s Mark.

The Spirit of the Maker photos courtesy of Maker’s Mark/Beam Inc.
Image of Maker’s Mark tasting glasses by Dave Pisani.

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Westin Kierland Opens Scotch Library

by Rebecca Rhoades
( March 31st, 2014 )

Scotch Library at Westin Kierland

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, has always been proud of its Scottish heritage. From the Highlands-inspired dishes at the Brittlebush Bar & Grill to the “Bagpipes at Sunset” series in which a master bagpiper calls golfers in from the links every evening, the resort honors the contributions of Scottish immigrants to early Arizona.

Continuing with the celebration is the recent opening of its Scotch Library in late 2013. With more than 130 single malts and blends from each of the six Scottish whiskey regions, it is one of the largest—if not the largest—collections of Scotch in the entire Phoenix area. Vintages range from 10 to more than 30 years old, and there’s something for every price range.

Got a few extra bucks to spare and want to make this a vacation to remember? The Scotch Library offers an extremely rare 62-year-old Macallan in a Lalique decanter. A one-ounce serving costs $1,000; two ounces will set you back $1,800.

Scotch Library at Westin Kierland 2

Along with the bottles, the Library also features a quartet of “Scotch Ambassadors” who have been extensively trained to pass on their knowledge to guests either one-on-one or during the weekly “Evening of Scotches” tasting events, held every Friday. And once a month, the resort hosts Scotch Master Tastings taught by outside Scotch experts.

Robert Camacho at Westin Kierland Scotch Library

I recently had the chance to attend one of the Master Tastings, featuring three ages—15-, 18-, and 21-year-old—of the Speyside single malt Glenfiddich, as well the distillery’s limited-release Cask of Dreams. The evening was hosted by Robert Camacho (seen above), a craft spirit specialist for Young’s Market Company of Arizona.

Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky offerings at Westin Kierland Scotch Library

Up first was the Cask of Dreams. Released in 2012, this 12-year-old spirit is named so because the folks at Glenfiddich decided to literally roll eight 53-gallon barrels through U.S. streets and allow people to write their dreams and aspirations on them. The barrels were returned to Scotland and used to age the whisky, with the hopes that the signers’ dreams will come true. The result: 3,500 bottles of a balanced, oaky libation with notes of vanilla, anise, pepper, citrus and caramel.

But my favorite, after some serious sipping, was the 18-year-old. Dry and heavy on tannins, it featured a rich caramel and baked apple finish. To it, and to the Westin Kierland, I say, “Òlamaid deoch-slàinte!”

The Scotch Library is open from 5–7 p.m. nightly. “Evening of Scotches” tastings are at 6 p.m. and cost $45 per person; Master Tastings begin at 6:30 p.m. and cost $50 per person. Reservations are required for all tastings.

More about the Westin Kierland

Exterior of Westin Kierland Resort at dusk, Phoenix, Arizona, Scotch Library

Technically located in Phoenix, but bordering Scottsdale, the Westin Kierland is a AAA Four Diamond resort featuring a full-service spa, a championship golf course, 10 dining venues, and the Adventure Water Park complete with a waterslide, lazy river, and FlowRider board sport simulator. And if Scotch isn’t your drink of choice—not everyone is like Ron Burgundy: “I like Scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.”—head on over to the Muddle Bar, where you can create your own exotic cocktails using the freshest fruits and herbs. Stay tuned for more about the Muddle Bar and its special Muddle Mania classes.

Photo of the Westin Kierland Resort courtesy of the resort.

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Wanderlush Diary: Pour Another Round

by Rebecca Rhoades
( March 27th, 2014 )

Pub travel

Cormac McCarthy once wrote, “There is no such joy in the tavern as upon the road thereto.” While his may have been speaking in a more symbolic sense, I’d like to take him a little more literally. And to his comment, I have to say that as a traveler—and as a lover of beverages booze-filled and zero-proof—oftentimes, what’s in the tavern can help you understand what you found on the road.

By sampling the beverages of a region, you get a taste of its terrior, a better understanding of the place you’re in and the people who surround you, whether you’re in an unfamiliar destination abroad or in your own neighborhood.

That’s why Lanee started this blog in 2011. And that’s why I’ll be taking the helm from this point on. Each week, and hopefully more frequently as I imbibe this ever-growing liquid universe, the new Wanderlush Diary will bring you tales of “spiritual” adventures, reviews of some of my favorite tipples, interviews with top experts in the field, and a menu full of recipes for palatable potables and intoxicating inebriants.

So join me at the bar for a toast to the endless Wanderlush adventures ahead of us.

cocktails illustration

Veni, Vidi, Bibi! (I Came, I Saw, I Drank)

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