Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kentucky Horse Park, Bourbon and Candy

Nothing says Kentucky Bluegrass like horses, bourbon and candy. Since the Toyota factory is on changeover and tours are suspended until mid-September, we opted for Kentucky Horse Park. We stayed at their campground in our Wilderness trailer with the kids back in the late 70s but we knew with Ted's love of horses that we would enjoy seeing it again.

Man O War is buried here and his sculpture dominates the entrance but our favorite is Secretariat who is actually buried at Claibourne Farms. In the early 80s while camping at Boonesborough State Park, Ted went to see Secretariat. He met his groom and we have lots of pictures of the three of them together.

First we visited the International Museum of the Horse, then took a trolley tour around the park. Next up was the Parade of Breeds.

Next was the Hall of Champions where retired horses are shown. We saw Mr. Muscleman, 2005 Trotter of the Year; Funny Cide, 2003 KY Derby and Preakness winner; Da Hoss, 1996 and 1998 Breeders Cup winner and Cigar, 1995 and 1996 Horse of the Year who had an unheard of 16 race winning streak. His winnings totaled $10 million and that was over 15 years ago.

Our last stop was at the American Saddlebred Museum where I decided to take a ride on the adult size hobby horse. Getting on was OK, getting off was another story!

The next day we headed to Buffalo Trace Distillery. The variables present in distilling bourbon is unreal. There is the mash of corn, wheat, barley, rye. Then the alcohol content when it is put into the barrels. These barrels must be made of White Oak, not because of tradition but because it is the only wood that will not weep and tops of trees produce different barrels than the bottoms do. The placement in storage, the rise and fall of temperatures, closeness to water, etc. all play a part and it amazes me they can come up with the same taste, bottle after bottle.

We were invited to see the group that hand bottles and packs Blanton's which can sell for $450 a bottle.

Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and we certainly learned from him and enjoyed the tour. Afterwards they had tasting of chilled versus room temperature and Eagle Rare versus Buffalo Trace. I opted for root beer! But when he brought the bourbon candies out, well then he was singing my song. They are delicious.

Our last stop was Rebecca Ruth Candies. This small business, started in 1918, is still housed in what was a home. The cooking kitchen is half the size of mine at home. In the back area is a short line that forms and covers the candy. At the end, two ladies were placing the pecans on top of the bourbon balls and packaging them. Reminded me of the Lucy and Ethel segment that is a classic. On the other side were three tables that constituted the "shipping department." That was it! And they make and sell 100,000 lbs. of chocolates a year. They gave us one of their bourbon balls and it was much stronger than the Buffalo Trace ones. She said each distillery sends bourbon for their own candies and they are all different.

We are taking today off for laundry and grocery shopping and to prepare to head to Karen's lake house tomorrow. We plan to spend Friday and Saturday nights there and return here on Sunday.

"I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon.” ~ Hugo Black

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