Magical Travel Destination

Magical Travel Destination

Have you ever traveled to a place that felt magical?  A place that is over the top beautiful or just makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale? I can recommend such a place that is just a few minutes and a lovely drive from Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky.

Several weeks ago I was invited to visit Castle & Key Distillery for an event prior to its public opening.  Castle & Key Distillery is a magical place.  There are very few places you can travel to these days that have the effect of transporting you to a different place and time.  Castle & Key Distillery is just such a place.

Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Castle & Key looks like a storybook setting!

The distillery is located in Woodford County about 5 miles from Frankfort on 113 acres of land.  As with most distilleries, it’s located by water.  The historic property was formerly known as Old Taylor Distillery and was built in 1887.  A scenic drive takes you through a community called Millville.  It’s almost like ‘time travel.’  Interestingly, Millville got its name from to the number of flour and grist mills that used to be located in the area.

One of my friends used to tell me about how in the old days the gardens of Old Taylor Distillery were so beautiful.  He said Colonel Taylor wanted a showplace and replicated beautiful gardens he visited in Europe.  I wish my friend was still here to see how the property has been transformed into the original storybook place that Colonel Taylor built!  He would have loved it.

Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
The gardens were replicated from classic European gardens.

I grew up in Frankfort and I can remember going with the Girl Scouts to the Old Taylor Distillery.  One of my fellow girl scout’s dad was one of the leaders of the distillery and we went for an educational tour one day.  The primary building was very much like a castle in appearance. Now, that was a long time ago.  Not too many years after my visit as a child, the distillery was abandoned.  Without care and upkeep, the buildings soon became neglected.  Overgrown trees and vines took over the beautiful buildings that we all loved.  Most of the kids called it ‘the haunted castle.’

Fast forward to four years ago when two guys had a dream and bought the property.  Founders Will Arvin and Wes Murry had the vision to restore the property to its original storybook setting.  Thank goodness we have such visionary people in central Kentucky!  Storytellers in a sense who inject vitality into the history, the period of decline and neglect, and the rehabilitation of such a special place.

Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Outdoor venue perfect for an outdoor wedding!

When I arrived at the event that day I was directed to the outdoor space for cocktails.  Since the distillery has only been opened for a short time, the bourbon isn’t ready yet and is ‘resting’ in the rick house.  Castle & Key is currently producing vodka and gin since those spirits don’t really need to age as with bourbon.  The welcoming cocktail that was served was called a Paw Paw Bramble.  For those of you who don’t know, a Paw Paw is a fruit that is native to Kentucky.  It’s not very pretty in its natural form, but when it’s pureed, its great.  Sort of like a grapefruit but not as tart.  It was mixed with vodka and served with a lemon peel garnish.

Anyone for a Paw Paw Bramble?

The distillery is named for the main building, which is of course, a ‘castle.’  The water source that is used to make the bourbon, is shaped like a key…..so that’s the origin of the name Castle & Key. The water used to make the bourbon continuously seeps through the surrounding limestone and into Glenn’s Creek.  The outdoor space is highlighted by this unique feature.

The water feature that is used to make the bourbon is shaped like a key

Castle & Key Distillery is home to the only female master bourbon distiller in the country.  Not since Prohibition has there been a woman in charge of bourbon distilling.  Master Distiller Marianne Eaves is a breath of fresh air.  She’s smart, she’s articulate and she’s a great role model…..that’s what I call Girl Power!  As she describes the gin distilling process it sounds more like an adventure in the culinary world rather than distilling liquids.  Castle & Key’s gin includes the traditional Juniper Berry and Angelica, but it also includes surprise ingredients such as Rosemary, Ginger, and Chamomile.  There’s also Lemon Verbena and Corriander!  Botanicals never tasted so good!

Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Master Distiller Marianne Eaves

Marianne hosted a tasting for us in the sunken garden area.  As I told you earlier, Colonel Taylor patterned the gardens from glorious European gardens.  Local celebrity landscape designer John Carloftis has done a tremendous job using original trees and shrubs, as well as supplementing with new items keeping the green and white color scheme.  It takes the garden party concept to a new level.

Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Lovely place for a garden party!
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Koi pond in the garden
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Master Distiller Eaves did a tasting for us

The castle building is the primary location for distilling bourbon, vodka, and gin.  Gleaming copper and stainless steel vats represent new elements use to distill spirits while housed in the historic building.  The gift shop is located in the same building.  Because the building is on the National Register great care was taken in using original materials and keeping things intact.  Original exposed brick and windows are highlighted by 8′ custom made metal chandeliers.  It’s gorgeous!

Bubbly Horse Visits Castle & Key Distillery
This is where the bourbon magic happens!
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
The gin is fantastic!
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Old meets new!
Bubbly Horse Visits Castle & Key Distillery
Original windows and brick were preserved
Custom made metal 8′ chandeliers in the gift shop

As we walked the property on the way to the rick house it occurred to me that even the remaining buildings that are in total disrepair are singularly lovely and do not detract from the recent rehabilitation.  There are several buildings on the property that were torn down in the 80’s.  Such a shame.

Even the abandoned buildings are unique!

The rick house is home to thousands of barrels of bourbon.  Marianne estimated that the bourbon will be aged and ready for release around 2021.  Now, for a little bourbon 101. The bourbon is stored and aged in a white oak barrel that has been charred.  The charring process takes about 35 seconds for the natural gas flame to age the barrel, thus adding the charcoal.  Each barrel weighs 98 pounds empty and 500 pounds when it is filled with bourbon, according to the barrel maker.  The barrel doesn’t have any nails or glue so the staves are the only thing keeping the barrels together.   During aging, the bourbon penetrates deep into the wood; as the barrel wood expands and contracts with changing seasonal temperatures in the rick house the bourbon’s taste is slowly and steadily influenced by the charred oak of the barrel.

The rick house contains the bourbon barrels that are aging
The staves are the only thing holding these barrels together
It’s estimated that the bourbon will be ready in 2021

Castle & Key even has a resident cat.  Ricky is the master exterminator.  He was dressed for the party.

Ricky the Master Exterminator at Castle & Key

The enclosed event space has exposed beams and is a spectacular place for a party.  From the lounge areas to the open dining area, the facility is glamorous without feeling pretentious.  It’s a great location for any type of event.

Lounge area
Glamourous but not pretentious
The exposed beams and a fabulous chandelier make this a great venue for a party
Bubbly Horse Visits Castle & Key Distillery
Beautiful Table Settings at the event

I have to admit that the Castle & Key Distillery certainly knows how to have an elegant event.  From start to finish the event was absolute perfection!  The Apiary catered the event, and it was a southern multi-course meal to remember.  Signature cocktails were served, including a unique Gin and Tonic garnished with juniper berries.

Specialty cocktails for the evening
Even the cocktail garnishes are cool!
Gin and tonic never tasted so good!
The dinner was catered by The Apiary
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
Delicious salad with a sorghum vinaigrette
Bubbly Horse visits Castle & Key Distillery
The Apiary served a wonderful dinner. Fried peach hand pies with lemon verbena compote for dessert!

Castle & Key has an excellent staff.  They are very knowledgeable, professional and personable.  As we walked the property I was blown away by a strong sense of Kentucky history,  as well as the preservation efforts that have been undertaken.  The Castle & Key distillery experience is something that you don’t want to miss!  You will fall in love with this must-see travel destination.  Until next week, xoxoxo.

Bubbly Horse Visits Castle & Key Distillery
Knowledgeable and personable tour guides provide a lovely experience at Castle & Key

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Patio Party

Patio Party

Mint juleps aren’t for Derby anymore!  Don’t you just love a mint julep?  Not the ones they serve in masses at the track, but the real, homemade type.  I love a good mint julep and they are so easy to make.  I wanted to share my version of a summertime strawberry mint julep.

You have to start with the real deal, which is homemade simple syrup.  Don’t be scared, it’s not hard.  And if you make a batch of it, it will last several weeks.  Or, at least until you run out of bourbon!

The recipe for simple syrup is 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and a sprig of fresh mint leaves.  Tear the leaves off of the stim, but don’t tear the leaves.  You will be fishing those out as the syrup cools.

Boil the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  Should be about 3 minutes.  While cooling remove the mint leaves.  Let cool completely then put in a storage container ( I use an olive oil dispenser).  You can keep it in the refrigerator for about a month. Ok, so now you have your base.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 parts Bourbon (use a middle of the road bourbon, you don’t have to use Pappy)
  • 1/2 part simple syrup
  • 1/2 part lemon juice
  • several strawberries
  • a fresh sprig of mint

Place your strawberries in a glass and be sure to muddle them until they have broken up.  Add all ingredients, including ice to the shaker and shake, shake, shake.  Pour into a julep cup, Moscow Mule cup or a highball glass.  Garnish with the fresh mint.

Cheers!  xoxo

 

 

 

Royal “Tea”

balmoral-punch-cocktail

Besides Champagne what should you serve at the royal wedding party? Even though it’s going to be 8am EST (the fun stuff starts a lot earlier) you still want to be creative and fancy.  There’s always a Mimosa as an option but I thought you might want to try something different.

I found this traditional English recipe and made a few changes to tie Kentucky and London together.  This sounds delicious! xoxo

Royal Balmoral Punch
Ingredients:
3 cups Kentucky Bourbon (Makers Mark would be nice)
1 cup tea syrup (to make, combine 1 cup English breakfast tea, brewed strong, then mix while hot with 1 cup sugar until it becomes a syrup)
2 cups fresh apple juice
Top with 2 cups lemonade

Directions:
Combine ingredients in a punch bowl with ice.
Serve in glass tea cups or champagne flutes

Talk Derby To Me

Talk Derby To Me

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Photo by Elissa Wiehn

Derby is coming!  It’s my favorite time of the year in Kentucky.  Everything is so festive and fun.  Even the weather is going to cooperate.  So this week all Bubbly Horse posts will be Derby related.

Let’s talk mint juleps.  Not the juleps that you buy at the track, they aren’t very good.  Let’s face it, you can’t have a good craft cocktail when you are preparing for the masses!

The key is the simple syrup.  It’s soooo easy to make and you can keep it in your fridge for several weeks.  All it is sugar and fresh mint leaves boiled down into a syrup.  It makes the drink so much better than when you use the mix.  You’ll see!

If you don’t have julep cups then use a regular glass.  I had a mint julep served in a Moscow mule cup the other day which was really good.  Just be creative and have fun! xoxo

Yield: Makes 1 drink
Ingredients
1  ounce minted simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon (I would use a quality bourbon versus a cooking bourbon)
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish

Preparation

Add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water (or not). Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.

Bourbon Thoughts

Bourbon Thoughts

Today I was doing one of my favorite things which is shopping at Costco.  I love walking around all the aisles and looking at all the items.  I never knew I needed so many items and gadgets!  Not to mention that it helps me get my steps in on my fitbit.

After my shopping I always visit the liquor store.  Did you know that Costco is the world’s leading wholesale buyer of wine?  The prices are great.

Today in addition to buying champagne and wine I was looking at all the spirits.  Costco has a good variety of bourbons.  They have the usual suspects, Woodford Reserve and Makers Mark, but they also have a good selection of select bourbons.  One of our new favorite bourbons is Rabbit Hole.  Not only is the packaging awesome but it’s a great bourbon for the value.  Read all about it below.

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However, the bourbon that caught my eye was the bourbon below.  It’s so exclusive I can’t even find anything about Lincoln Bourbon on the internet.  Be sure to check out the price tag.  At Costco!  Does anybody know this bourbon?

What’s your favorite bourbon? xoxo

Bourbon Pancakes

Bourbon Pancakes

 

Are you looking for a great recipe to make for your Valentine?  I have it right here!  Buttermilk pancakes are so good and the hardest part is going to the grocery to pick up the ingredients.  Add Bourbon syrup to the dish and you’ve got a meal that is scrumpdillyicious!

Ingredients
Bacon Pancakes with Maple Bourbon Butter Sauce
Pancakes:
8 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter (slightly cool)
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
Syrup:
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter

Directions
For the Pancakes: Heat a griddle to medium-high heat. Fry the bacon until crispy and then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Lower the heat to medium, and remove any excess bacon fat. You want there to be a thin layer for the pancakes.

Chop the bacon into crumbs and separate the crumbs into two piles.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, whisking together to thoroughly combine.

Add the buttermilk, butter, half of the bacon, and eggs and whisk together until combined but still slightly lumpy.

Drop spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook on each side until it bubbles, then flip over. Transfer to a warm oven while finishing the rest.

For the Syrup: In a small saucepot, combine the bourbon and maple syrup, whisking together over medium heat until thoroughly combined and hot.

Cook until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes, then whisk the butter in, a tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated.

Serve a stack of pancakes covered in syrup and sprinkled with the reserved bacon crumbs to serve.

 

Photo and recipe by The Chew

 

What’s Not to Like!

Caramel, bourbon and bacon need I say anything else?  All my favorite flavors rolled up in an awesome treat.  Thanks Food.com. Yummy!  xoxo

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READY IN: 1hr 15mins
SERVES: 4-6
UNITS: US
Ingredients

5 quarts plain popped corn (freshly air-popped recommended.)
1⁄2-1 lb thick cut bacon, chopped, fried to just about crispy and well drained
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1⁄2 cup light corn syrup or 1⁄2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces Bourbon (cheap is good)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 250º.
Melt 1 cup of butter over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar, corn syrup and sea salt and then stir until boiling at the edges. Lower the heat slightly and let boil until the caramel is 250º. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and bourbon. Once fully incorporated, stir in the bacon.
Divide the popcorn into two very lightly greased roasting pans and coat with the caramel. Mix well and then put the popcorn into the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, mixing every 10-15 minutes so the kernels of popped corn is coated in bourbon bacon coating.
Once done, pour onto either parchment paper or wax paper to cool and break into pieces.
Refrigerate.

Drunken Cherries

The holidays are coming!  Do you all like to pretend that you are straight out of Mad Men and make craft cocktails at your house?  Drinks such as Manhattans, Old Fashioned, Martini’s are all coming back into style.  Why not make a spectacular garnish that you can use or make for gifts?  These cherries are the best and can make your cocktail go from average to superstar in a flash! xoxo

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Ready In 15 minutes

Microwave bourbon (the highest proof possible) and brown sugar in a microwave-safe dish until hot, about 1 minute. (Or heat in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.) Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place cherries into a small jar and pour the hot liquid over them; gently press on the cherries to make sure they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 week or up to 1 month.

Recipe and photo from Madewell

Hot Buttered Bourbon- Yes Please!

I’m loving these cooler temps, it just makes me want to get out my boots, sweaters and drink bourbon! Break out the snuggies and enjoy. Xoxo

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Hot Buttered Bourbon

10mins · 2 Servings
Ingredients 
1 cup apple cider

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup (4 ounces) bourbon

Cinnamon sticks for garnish