Frankfort, Kentucky – May 2019 – Bourbon Valley

A narrow valley south of Frankfort, Kentucky was the home of a couple of bourbon distilleries for more than 100 years. In the 1970s they closed.

Their remnants remained unused in this valley for 40 year.

Nature was taking over.

But recently two startup distilleries have moved back into some of the buildings and began bourbon making again. One took over the Old Taylor facility, whose office building looked like a castle.

They have named their bourbon Castle & Key. More on the ‘key’ in a moment, but you can see where the Castle portion came from.

They have invested significant amounts of money into the facility.

The steam towers remain but unused.

There is a great mix of old and new.

The ‘key’ portion comes from their water source – which inside is shaped like a keyhole.

The control for the small dam still functions.

Overall it is a great location for bourbon making.

The massive 4 floor aging warehouse is once again in use.

Just up the road is Glenn’s Creek – another bourbon maker who took over an old abandoned facility.

Tours of bourbon distilleries is a very big tourist business in Kentucky, and there are no settings better than here.

Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Scenes of the City

Two things are important in Lexington – horse racing and bourbon!

Even some of the public art – including giant sculptures of books often depicts horse racing.

A number of artistic horse sculptures are scattered around town.

A downtown sculpture area is called Thoroughbred Park – depicting the finish line in great detail.

The best ‘ghost sign’ in town is for Horse Racing Oats.

But there is more to Lexington that just horses and bourbon – there is the University of Kentucky, and their stunning library.

For a city this far off the east coast there are a number of early 1800 or older buildings and homes.

A former courthouse is now the main visitor center – as well as other civic offices.

The area has been growing, and there is evidence of new investments downtown with government buildings and plazas.

The main library is newer as well, and features this 5 story pendulum clock – reputed to be the largest in the world.

We visited Transylvnia University and an art fair that was occurring there. The college was the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is named for the Transylvania Colony – a proposed 14th colony that never really came to be – but the university name stuck.

Our final stop was the arboretum shared by the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. On this spring day there were a number of groups using the setting for their backdrops – homecoming groups, weddings, engages, and others…

Our final stop was a memorial to 49 people who lost their lives in a commuter airline crash in 2006. They are represented by 49 birds in flight.

For a mid sized city Lexington has a lot to offer – a good place to spend a day or two.

Bienvenue a Paris (Kentucky) – May 2019

So many small towns in America are named after other places – and Paris is no different. According to Google there are 23 towns and cities in America called Paris, but the one in Kentucky is one of the nicer ones.

This town was originally called Bourbontown because it is the county seat of Bourbon County (more on that later), but was renamed to Paris as a thank you to France’s contribution during the Revolutionary War.

They have a small Eiffel Tower next to the Visitor Center/Farmers Market.

The town itself is very well preserved, as there is a lot of money in the area from the thoroughbred farms (more on this later as well).

Horse Racing is a recurring theme throughout all of Central Kentucky.

The pots along the street for flowers and bushes are re purposed horse troughs.

Hollywood has a walk of fame – but so does Paris – with horseshoes for the great ones – including the greatest – Secretariat.

Most of the downtown area buildings are 100 years old and in good condition.

The Duncan Tavern is the oldest building in town – dating from 1788.

The highlight though is the Bourbon County Courthouse. Completed in 1902 it is spectacular.

From the mosaics in the floors….

To another horse racing tribute.

The fantastic view of the dome from below.

Much of the ironwork came from nearby Maysville.

Great care has been given in the upkeep of the courthouse. We were lucky enough that on this Saturday morning it was open for absentee voting – and the Boubon County Clerk of Courts Richard Eads gave us a detailed history of the building, taking time out of his busy day for us.

The ceiling of the courtroom has a mural of Lady Justice.

But with that it was time to head out of town….

Clermont, KY – October 2013 – Jim Beam Factory Tour and Mammoth Caves National Park

Our cold Saturday October morning in Kentucky started out near the town of Clermont, at the Jim Beam Factory Tour. After gathering in the visitor center we took a bus to the factory, starting in the area where the ingredients are mixed together for mash.

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From there it was off to the fermentation area

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Next up was the bottling line – where I bottled my own – even though I rarely drink whiskey. The bottle is still nearly full 4 years later.

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For most though, they go into barrels where they are aged for years in large barns.

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Resulting in a finished product.

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From there it was back to the visitor center for a tasting event.

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Our afternoon was spent at Mammoth Caves National Park, where we went on two tours.

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The first was the standard tour, with electric lighting throughout (I had yet figured out how to photograph low light without a tripod)

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Our second tour was a smaller group, using the old fashioned lanterns.

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This tour was much more interesting, and really gave a different feel with the even lower levels of light. We were able to see where people ‘smoked’ their names of the ceiling in the 1800s.

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