Monday, July 4, 2016

Louisville to Charleston WV

Back in the late 80's I would go to Louisville every year for a conference in Louisville KY with other college employees. We would go down to Louisville in a college car and take about 12 hours including stops for lunch etc. It was a fun trip and we all really enjoyed it.

Since Marianne had never been to Kentucky we took the opportunity to visit Louisville. The conference was held at a hotel on 4th Street which is the main street. This is the Ohio River.

Most years. the conference was held at the Galt House which is the tallest building closest to the river. It had two revolving restaurants on top that offered great views of the river. At our first time at the hotel, we went up to the revolving restaurant to have breakfast which was done buffet style. We were given a table away from the view and one of our group, Claude, was disappointed. Anyhow we got our food at the buffet and I found our table that had now moved and had a view. Claude came back to our table and asked me how I had persuaded the hotel staff to change the table to one with a better view. He had not realized that the restaurant revolved. Much laughter ensued.

We would go to Louisville on the last Saturday in April. The following Saturday was the first Saturday in May, the day of the Kentucky Derby. Louisville was in party mode for the entire week and part off the celebrations included an outdoor concert in a square right beside the Galt Hotel. Instead of joining the riff-raff in the square we could see the show from a balcony. Generally the show featured bands from the past such as the Lettermen but one year we descended in the elevator with the Kingston Trio.

We also went to the Derby a few times in joined the crowd inside the track. A lot of fun and I even picked the winner once.

Louisville is a fair size city. 

The river has a low dam which makes the river very wide.

A lock to enable boats to go up and down the river.

Clock on the other side of the river in Indiana.

You might remember that the Louisville Lip came from here. There is now a Muhammed Ali Street.

Each year during Derby week, the Belle of Lousville races against the Delta Queen from Cincinatti. I see that the Delta Queen has been retired and now there are three boats in the race.

The entrance to the Galt Hotel.

Thirty years ago, the carpet design in the hotel was vomitrocious. It's a little better now.

One third of bourbon is produced in Louisville.

The first time we went to Louisville, we stayed at the very distinguished Brown Hotel where the Hot Brown was invented.

We stopped in so that I could haunt. It costs over $300 per night to stay. back in 1985, I was given one of the enormous rooms. The bathroom was bigger than most hotel rooms and the huge bed looked tiny in the room, even though I could lie sideways on the bed with plenty of headroom.

We headed east and stopped at a bourbon distillery called Buffalo Trace.

Just one of many storage buildings in this distillery.

We had to wait about an hour for our free tour to start. Fortunately there are lovely grounds to walk around.

This house was for guests of the owner.

The owner built this building for employee use.

The spring where the water for the bourbon came from.

From the 200 year old tree.

Colonel Blanton was the owner who organized that the garden be built. Each year he would organize a party for the employees that featured this burgoo.

With my interest in building amplifiers I was intrigued by some huge transformers.

The company is constantly testing new ideas to improve the quality of the bourbon or to produce new brands. They currently produce more than a dozen brands of bourbon as well as rye whiskey and vodka. This building is where they test new materials and techniques.

Some people waiting for their tour to start.

Tour buses. The crowds were much less in the afternoon when we left. Go on a weekday if you can.

A wonderful sentiment.

Looking up at the water tower.


We went into the building where the barrels are inspected before use. Most oak barrels used in Kentucky come from just one barrel maker.

The barrel is only used once but scotch whiskey makers buy these used barrels to put their whiskey in. Buffalo Trace will also sell you a barrel.

You buy it at the gift shop. I have no idea how much one cost.

Probably some of the ingredients arrive in these tankers.

Lunch was bourbon-ball ice-cream. Delicious on an over 90 degrees day.

The ice-cream ready to meet my stomach.

How the barrels are delivered to the barrel warehouse.

A window to one of the warehouses where the bourbon is aged.

The higher in the warehouse the barrel is located the quicker it ages. Cheaper whiskeys come from higher up in the building. The more expensive bourbons are matured lower down where the temperature is cooler and the maturation is slower. This produces a smoother bourbon. Since approximately 3% of the bourbon disappears every year to evaporation, a fifteen year old bourbon barrel is less than half full when it finally bottled. 

Bottling plant. 

Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace and Blantons, three of their most expensive bourbons.

Meanwhile a truck arrived with some new barrels. These blokes looked to be very strong and they would need to be to handle these very heavy barrels.

An experimental bourbon which would cost an arm and a couple of legs.

After the tour, they plied us with small samples which we managed to force down. Reluctantly, of course. The company also offers a 'hard hat' tour that shows the cooking process, the fermentation and the distillation process. However it is not offered in July when they do maintenance.

We headed east towards West Virginia. There were still plenty of horse farms.

Finally we reached West Virginia where we stayed the night in Charleston. There was not too much to see except for trees lining the highway.

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