Dipping into Bourbon History at Maker’s Mark Distillery

The Maker’s Mark Distillery offers a look into more than just the process of making bourbon. Visitors can explore back into the history of American whiskey and how it shaped the modern Maker’s Mark product.

The Loretto, Kentucky facility sits less than an hour’s drive outside Lexington. While the Maker’s Mark operation set up shop in the mid-1950s, there’s been a distiller of one sort or another on the site since the early 1800s. It’s the only whiskey facility marked in the National Registry of Historic Places.

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Kentucky’s special climate (mixing hot, humid summers with winters cold enough for snow, but less harsh than more northern states) makes for perfect whiskey aging as temperature changes cause barrels to expand and contract — squeezing natural wood flavoring into the alcohol. So, bourbon has been a big deal in Maker’s Mark parts since the days of the Whiskey Rebellion.

A visit to Maker’s Mark offers a tour that explores the history of the Samuels Family and its establishment of the brand. As a small batch distillery, Maker’s Mark produces a set amount of its bourbon per year and then stops — allowing the distillers to monitor quality control more precisely. Throughout that process, today’s bourbon comes out of much the same process as it did in the 1950s and clear back 200 years.

For your own virtual tour of Maker’s Mark, enjoy the gallery below.

Photos by John Scott Lewinski