In Day Four of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we visit Town Branch, learn from a true bourbon master, and Ben nerds out. (A lot.)
Town Branch, Buffalo Trace, Old Rip Van Winkle and more
Staying Sober in Bourbon Country
We posed the same question to everyone we spoke to on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: “If someone is only going to visit Kentucky once, what should they do?” Here are their responses.
Maker's Mark, Willet, and More
In day two of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we get lost in the backwoods, explore the Willet Distillery, taste a few bourbon cocktails made by a pro, and more.
A Night in Kentucky's Oldest Family-Operated B&B
Close your eyes. Form a picture in your head of what a historic B&B in the heart of Bluegrass country should look like. What remains though in the mind’s eye should look quite close to Harrodsburg’s Beaumont Inn owned by the Dedman family.
How a next-generation master distiller helped relight the stills
Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen doesn’t have time for bullshit. It’s not something he has to tell anyone. The message shoots from his eyes like a railgun. Even at a relatively young age, it’s clear he’s heard it all before. He talks like someone who’s lost years listening to others dribble on, and worked hard to eradicate the behavior in himself; his speech is terse, verging on curt. You can’t blame him for him ignoring the noise. A lot rides on his shoulders. He and his family worked for years to rebuild the family distillery, which reopened in 2012, and now he’s determined to prove a point.
Inside Louisville's Copper & Kings Distillery
A stack of freshly painted neon orange and black shipping containers stand in stark contrast to the red brick warehouse aesthetic of East Washington Street in the Butchertown area of Louisville, like a shiny new Google campus in the middle of a housing project. The large steel rectangles are the first of many signs that the Copper & Kings distillery is anything but traditional.
Greetings from the Bluegrass State
We figured the best way to get to the bottom of the recent bourbon boom was to head to the Bluegrass State with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days of Kentucky scenery, friendly locals and distillery tours. Here’s a play-by-play of day one of our investigation on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Never Order the Scotch
An aimless night in Louisville turns into a booze-fueled expedition, filled with new friends, a bar with 1,600 beers, and a cat that’s not to be fucked with.
A Roaming Journal of America's Spirit
Bourbon is booming, but only decades ago, it was on a path toward failure. This was most evident in the 1980s, at the height of vodka and big hair, when distilleries in the Bluegrass State were shuttering their doors. They simply couldn’t give bottles away, the same bottles that just a generation before were lining executive conference rooms and hotel bars throughout America. It was by definition an all-American drink, and it was quickly fading. But then in the mid-2000s, distillers realized the atmosphere was changing. Bourbon started coming back. Fast.
This explosion, which continues to grow to this day, raises plenty of questions. What’s fueling the bourbon boom? Is it going to burst, like tech and housing? Are some bottles really worth $5,000, and more importantly, who’s buying them? What makes a bourbon good? The best way to get to the bottom of this was to head to the Bluegrass State, where 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is made, equipped with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail — a triangle of distillery tours throughout the state with endpoints at Louisville, Lexington and Bardstown — for many early mornings and late nights drinking and talking with some of the foremost professionals in booze. We came back with five days of fear and loathing on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Rocks Sunrise-Side of the Mississippi
Freddie Wilkinson makes his home in the White Mountains, where he climbs and guides most of the year between putting up alpine first ascents on expeditions to Alaska, Nepal, Patagonia, India and Antarctica. These are his four favorite climbing areas out East, plus some inside tips on what to do when you’re in the neighborhood.
Peeping leaves and climbing rock
For nearly 80 years, the Gunks have been one of the East’s most hallowed (not to mention busiest) traditional climbing areas, featuring more than 1,400 routes on four major cliffs clustered outside of the college town of New Paltz. But Sky Top — privately owned by the Mohonk Mountain House, a 145-year-old luxurious Victorian castle resort that restricts crag access to high-rolling guests and Alpine Endeavors clients — is utterly serene, and our group is alone on the lichen-covered rock.
Less Ralph Lauren, More Murderball
Bike messengers are a rough lot. So it’s not surprising that they were the early adopters of hardcourt bike polo, a tougher take on cycle polo. We paid a visit to the Seattle Bike Polo club at Cal Anderson park in Capitol Hill for some body-checking camaraderie.
Steel frames, gravel roads and good wine? Per favore.
The scenery is just one of the things that’s made L’Eroica one of the greatest organized rides in the world since Giancarlo Brocci founded it 30 years ago to help preserve the strada bianche, or white sand and gravel roads of Tuscany.
Vintage gear for old Italian roads
In 2014 bike parlance, L’Eroica is the ultimate gravel grinder, a 38-204 kilometer ride along the strade bianche (“white roads”) of Tuscany, Italy, with ascents steep as 23 percent grade and sketchy, sandy downhills as a reward for the hard work. Unlike the Dirty Kanza, though, you won’t find riders toeing the line in Gaiole in Chianti with carbon bikes, electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. L’Eroica’s done old school.
Reflection and Extreme Discomfort
Temazcal is a traditional Mesoamerican sweat lodge used for physical and spiritual cleansing. GP contributor Will McGough has suffered through it twice, at the Grand Playa Resort in Cabo and Live Aqua Resort in Cancun.
Millionaire Cottages and Adirondack Chairs
Muskoka is considered the “Hamptons of Toronto”. Here’s a guide to making the most of the cottage-dotted vacation spot.
Wet trousers and world-class scallops
1:00 p.m. BST | Colbost, Isle of Skye, UK – We parked the truck somewhere in the north of Skye and picked up our rental Lapierre road bikes. It was very cold and raining hard, the aftereffects of Hurricane Gonzalo on the other side of the Atlantic, but we wanted to get a ride in and figured: let’s just bike to lunch. Lunch was at The Three Chimneys, the Isle of Skye’s best restaurant with a newly minted Michelin star.
Terrifying Road Rules in Beautiful Skye
9:00 a.m. BST | Isle of Skye, UK – Driving a broad car on the wrong side of the road, from the passenger’s seat, is an upsetting experiment in bizarro world physics.
Learning the way of the climb
2:00 p.m. EDT | New Paltz, NY — I’ve never met a more playful group of people than rock climbers. The experienced ones seem to have the best sense of humor when they’re standing on the edge of a cliff.
Valhalla, I Am Coming
Iceland exists as if out of the mind of a science fiction writer — not in the futuristic sense, but as some timeless place, where the elements that created the earth meet the people who harness its power. It is perhaps the most exotic place on Earth. And it’s only a five-hour flight from Manhattan.
The Everest of Sailing
In the past decade, the Volvo Ocean Race has seen boats dismasted and sunk, sailors break bones and lose teeth — and in one tragedy, a Dutch crew member washed overboard and was killed. It’s no wonder the race is called the “Everest of sailing”. Here’s a primer on the latest edition Volvo Ocean Race, beginning October 11, 2014.
Instead of Gatorade and Gu, Chianti and Lardo
1:00 p.m. CEST | Gaiole in Chianti, Italy — Actually, we’re something like 30 miles outside Gaiole in Chianti. Jeff‘s seat tube keeps falling, which makes sense because we’re riding pre-1987 road racing bikes as L’Eroica requires, and the mechanic had reamed his tube (the bike’s) something serious to get the seat post into it yesterday.
On the Dance floor at Kuli Alma
Blazing Beats, art house-inspired visual projections and a cocaine-like liquor: a night inside Kuli Alma, Tel Aviv’s newest nightlife hotspot.
Exploring an Unwelcoming Gem
The North Cascades aren’t exactly user friendly. There are no drive-up views for the minivan crowd. Plush lodges and charming hamlets are few and far between. Rangers usually spend a lot of time telling you what a miserable time you’ll have if you put yourself at the mercy of the park’s capricious and violent weather. But with some grit and serious sweat, adventurers who press through those barriers reap major rewards. Photographer Chris Burkard covered our own recent trip.
Social Times at a Unique Resort in the Chilean Andes
Snow was the last thing on anyone’s mind back home, but there I was in mid-August in Portillo, Chile, adjusting my goggles and cranking down my boot buckles.
A City That's More Than a Mile High
Denver isn’t just good breakfast and a gateway to good pow — or America’s favorite city with legalized marijuana. It’s also a hotbed of killer dining, host to a booming culture scene, and a new destination for startups and venture capital. 300 days of sunshine a year, green space around every turn (parks, that is), and proximity to said slopes doesn’t hurt either. Our local expert weighs in with the latest installment of 72 Hours.
What to pack for the adventure of a lifetime
Traveling too much of Africa is intimidating. Years of headlines, let alone the complications of getting there, are foreboding enough. But South Africa has come to establish itself as a gateway to the larger continent for travelers around the world. When packing for a South African safari, versatility is key; here’s everything you’ll need.
The lesser-known safari destination that's not to be missed
Witnessing a million wildebeest migrating from the southern Serengeti to Kenya’s Masa Mara reserve looks just as incredible in the flesh as it does in HD on Planet Earth. But to assume it’s the only real way to take in the circle of life on the great African continent is a rookie mistake — as four days spent on safari in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa made viciously clear.
Deals this good don't last long.