16 September 2010
Since we moved to Kentucky we’ve wanted to go to the annual Bourbon Festival. Yesterday the Prince Consort had the day off. So we hopped in the hybrid and headed south, arriving in Bardstown just before lunchtime. And, of course, the Festival didn’t start until that night. Uh huh. I’m not sure who was supposed to check the schedule, but Rule #1 says, “It’s never the wife’s fault.” So …
As long as we were in this lovely town, rife with beautiful buildings from the 1800’s, we decided to tourist. You guessed it. We started with lunch. A tasty lunch in an historic house. Our food was good and definitely homemade. The Prince Consort does not eat pie crust. But he gobbled every bite of his coconut cream pie. Good stuff.
I had the restaurant’s take on ‘Bread pudding’ with Bourbon sauce. The ‘bread’ was a light biscuit with raisins over which was poured one powerful and delicious Bourbon Sauce. The point of the dessert. Frankly they could have poured the sauce over a tire, and I would have licked it dry and gnawed it down to the valve to get every drop.
And this set the tone. The Bourbon Festival is clearly held in Bardstown because there are so many Bourbon Distilleries in the area. One of which we had not visited. The last time we tried to visit Heaven Hill, they were not doing tours. But yesterday, Yes!
So we ambled in, signed up for the next tour, and joined the group of couples about our age. Probably all of them had arrived a day early for the Festival and were filling in time. Which as we discussed before was not the wife’s fault.
The tour guide was young, engaging, and brimming with information that we’d truly not heard in any of the previous seven or whatever distilleries we’d done on the Bourbon Trail. But no one is perfect. She started the tour with the history of Heaven Hill. “Which has been in operation … with the exception of that one period,” and here she turned and looked at all us old codgers, “ which you all remember.” I snapped to the woman next to me “I Am Not That Old that I remember Prohibition.” Sigh, the young.
The tour included a tasting of two Heaven Hill’s bourbons. Again our guide was a fount of information. The Prince Consort and I agreed we’d buy a bottle of bourbon #2, the one that didn’t make the wax melt and drip out of my ears. But the crucial test came as we left the tasting room. Our guide gave each of us a sample bourbon ball from a famous maker.
Bourbon balls are one of Kentucky’s greatest contribution to the world. I rate the distilleries by the bourbon balls, not the bourbon. Heaven Hill’s were fine, but not made by them. So they’ll have to be graded on bourbon alone.
The BEST bourbon balls: if you’re online hunting or stop in a KY airport, which includes the Cincy-‘Tucky airport aka Cincinnati International (actually located across the river in KY) the best are made by Maker’s Mark- www.makersmarkshop.com/ !!! Oh, yeah. Close second is the bourbon fudge from Gesthemani Abbey-www.gethsemanifarms.org/.
I’m not saying I was too enthusiastic about the bourbon tasting or the bourbon ball, or the bourbon sauced biscuit dessert at lunch, but I went to bed last night with a headache. I’m thinking dog of the hair, make that hair of the dog. This could be an emergency online bourbon balls or fudge situation.